Union Leader: Medicaid expansion would help women 56% more than men says Planned Parenthood
By GARRY RAYNO
CONCORD — Women would bear a disproportionate burden if Medicaid is not expanded in New Hampshire under the Affordable Care Act, advocates said Tuesday.
At a news conference organized by Planned Parenthood of Northern New England advocates said expanding Medicaid would provide needed prenatal services for pregnant women, health coverage for many home health care givers, security to working families and more jobs.
Jennifer Frizzell, senior policy adviser of Planned Parenthood, said 38,000 of the more than 58,000 people who would be eligible for Medicaid in the state would be women.
Frizzell and others blasted the Senate for its recent 13-11 party-line vote to reject expansion. Frizzell said the vote was another example of “Republican lawmakers playing politics with women’s health care.
The news conference continued the push for Medicaid expansion by advocates and health care providers as politicians grapple with the decision.
The House and Gov. Maggie Hassan both included Medicaid expansion in their budget proposals.
But last week, the Senate rejected expanding Medicaid saying there are too many unanswered questions. Among them whether the federal government would live up to its promise to pay 100 percent of the cost of expanding eligibility to 138 percent of the federal poverty level or about $15,000 a year for an adult.
Instead the Senate wants to study the impact expansion would have on the state before moving forward.
After the news conference, Greg Moore, state director of Americans for Prosperity, said advocates did nothing to address concerns raised by senators, noting there is no reason for the two sides to move toward each other until those issues are addressed.
“It’s just one more Medicaid provider saying this is great for New Hampshire,” Moore said, referring to Planned Parenthood.
During the news conference, Barbara Marzelli, 50, of Newbury said she has been without health insurance for 20 years.
She said her two children who are in high school are covered under the Healthy Kids program, and her father whom she cares for has veterans’ health care, but she and her husband, who is in the construction industry, are caught in the middle.
“Expanding Medicaid to families like ours would be like throwing a life jacket to someone who is drowning,” Marzelli said. “If New Hampshire throws this money away, they are throwing away lives.”
The state is expected to receive $2.5 billion in federal tax dollars over the next seven years if the state decides to expand the program, while the state would pay between $27 million to $85 million.
Under the ACA, the federal government would pay 100 percent of the cost for the first three years and then gradually reduce its share to 90 percent after seven years.
Republican senators, like Senate President Peter Bragdon of Milford, doubt the federal government will be able to live up to its promise with trillion dollar deficits, leaving the state with the bill.
Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley of Wolfeboro, a Republican, argued last week that once the state adds the estimated 58,000 people to the program, it would morally have an obligation to continue whether the federal government lives up to its obligation or not.
Advocates outlined the options for people currently without health insurance and the difference coverage would mean for them, such as better prenatal care and more preventative treatment.
“When people are uninsured, that does not stop them from getting sick,” said Julia Burdick, a family physician at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Concord. “They show up at emergency rooms and community clinics.”
Everyone will pay higher rates if the state does not take the federal funds, she said.
House and Senate budget writers will sit down soon to begin negotiating a compromise plan before the new fiscal year begins July 1.