- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 1, 2014

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - More than a third of those eligible for coverage under New Hampshire’s newly expanded Medicaid program have signed up since enrollment began three months ago, according to the state Department of Health and Human Services.

New Hampshire’s previous Medicaid program covered low-income children, parents with non-disabled children under 18, pregnant women, older residents and people with disabilities. The expansion adds anyone under 65 who earns up to 138 percent of federal poverty guidelines, which is about $15,900 for a single adult. The state has estimated that 50,000 adults are eligible either through the state’s managed care program for Medicaid or through a program that subsidizes existing employer coverage, and 18,500 have signed up since July 1.

Medicaid expansion negotiations broke down during a special session last November, but Republican lawmakers agreed this year to a plan that uses federal money to put people on private plans. The program is projected to cost $340 million a year when fully implemented and would use 100 percent federal funding through 2017 to expand coverage. Their coverage will end if federal funding drops below 100 percent and ends regardless at the end of 2016 if the Legislature doesn’t reauthorize it.

Supporters of the expansion have argued that doing so will improve the health of currently uninsured residents by providing access to affordable preventive and primary care and will reduce the amount of uncompensated care provided by hospitals, which could help drive down premium costs and help struggling businesses. Opponents had argued the state’s financial liability should be capped to protect taxpayers.

Gov. Maggie Hassan, a Democrat, pushed for the expansion, while her Republican challenger, Walt Havenstein, opposes it.


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