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New Hampshire Governor Signs Medicaid Expansion Bill

By Rebecca Adams, CQ HealthBeat Associate Editor

March 27, 2014 -- New Hampshire Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan signed a bill last week that would expand the state's Medicaid program.

Twenty six states and the District of Columbia have now broadened eligibility for Medicaid, as the health care law (PL 111-148, PL 111-152) allows.

That does not count Pennsylvania, where GOP Gov. Tom Corbett is negotiating with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services on a waiver proposal to expand eligibility. Corbett says that his plan does not require the approval of the legislature.

The New Hampshire state Senate cleared the bill.

The measure will expand coverage to about 50,000 New Hampshire residents.

"We are signing into law the most significant piece of health care legislation that the state of New Hampshire has seen in decades," said Hassan.

The state estimates that 10,000 to 12,000 adults could begin getting Medicaid subsidies to help pay for employer-based coverage under an existing state program within the next few months. Another 38,000 people would receive coverage through the state's Medicaid managed care program starting July 1 or as soon as possible after that.

Starting in 2016, the state will transition beneficiaries to a program modeled in part on similar programs approved in Arkansas, Iowa and Michigan. The state would use Medicaid dollars to buy marketplace plans. The state law would sunset that year unless the state legislature extended it.

If federal officials do not approve a waiver, then the temporary program that uses Medicaid dollars to subsidize employer-based coverage would end on June 30, 2015.

"Helping low-income workers purchase private coverage through the health insurance marketplace will support our efforts to attract competition in order to improve affordability and increase choices for coverage for all New Hampshire citizens," Hassan said.

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