Nashua Telegraph: GOP group warns against Medicaid support
CONCORD – Fiscal and social conservatives directed their attention Wednesday to all 13 Republicans in the state Senate urging that they hold firm to reject expansion of Medicaid coverage for low-income adults.
Aaron Day, the new chairman of the Republican Liberty Caucus of New Hampshire, warned them any vote for this priority campaign of Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan could buy them a primary opponent next year.
“Anybody that votes for this federal expansion of Medicaid can expect a very serious set of challenges in terms of candidates and in terms of financial resources,” Day told reporters at a news conference Wednesday.
Hassan has been working privately to try to come up with an expansion plan that can win over at least the two Senate GOP members she needs to get that legislation through during a special session in November.
Sen. Nancy Stiles, R-Hampton, endorsed the recommendations of a commission she served upon that embraced expansion.
President Chuck Morse, R-Salem, said he’s been meeting with Hassan in hopes of coming up with a bipartisan plan that places greater emphasis than the commission did on extending private insurance coverage and not government-supplied Medicaid to these low-income residents.
State Sen. Andy Sanborn, R-Bedford, said he’s seen no compromise proposal, and he chairs the policy committee that deals with all health care legislation.
Greg Moore, director of the state chapter of Americans for Prosperity, said Medicaid is a badly run program in need of reform and that giving it nearly 50,000 more clients isn’t going to make it any better.
“I would never want to be on Medicaid nor would I want to see a family member or a relative on Medicaid,” said Moore, who used to be communications director for the Department of Health and Human Services, the agency that administers Medicaid in the state.
Sanborn said the federal government cannot be trusted to keep its promise under the Affordable Care Act of at least 90 percent federal grant support to cover those under the expansion.
He noted that while President Barack Obama promised people could keep their health insurance plans, hundreds of thousands with individual coverage will be forced to go with a new insurer on Jan. 1.
“The president of America is lying to the people of America and New Hampshire,” Sanborn said. “What makes us believe he is going to keep his promise of the federal government paying 90 percent of the cost?”
A spokesman for the Democratic Party charged that right-wing zealots are trying to bully Senate GOP members into toeing the line.
“Despite all of the testimony from independent experts and the bipartisan support for the work done by the Medicaid expansion commission, the far right wing of the NHGOP continues to oppose this commonsense solution that would strengthen the economic security of New Hampshire families and small businesses,” said Harrell Kirstein, communications director for the New Hampshire Democratic Party.
“The only question now is if Chuck Morse will stand with the Tea Party fringe in their opposition or with New Hampshire working families seeking affordable health care?”
In a related development, the House Rules Committee voted, 8-2, to approve operating rules for the special session.
The rules make it clear that expansion of Medicaid is the only significant business the House will take up.
The House rules also allow for a procedural step at this meeting so that Hassan and Executive Council can recommend in February changes to the state’s 10-year highway program.
Advocates say the state loses nearly $1 million in federal aid for every day it delays expanding Medicaid to cover up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level or $16,000 a year for a single adult.
The expansion will extend government-paid insurance to 23,000 who now lack coverage – mostly poor adults – and a total of 48,000 will be enrolled as many will leave private-for-Medicaid insurance.
The commission’s report contains one caveat for expansion should the federal government ever renege on an Affordable Care Act law that promises 100 percent reimbursement for the newly eligible for three years and 90 percent after that point.
If that federal share drops, expansion would be discontinued unless the Legislature within six months voted to reauthorize it.