, Kingston, NH

August 22, 2013

Medicaid Expansion

Carriage Towne News

---- — Medicaid Expansion

The two party system, via gridlock, is failing the American people. Compromise has been shelved for partisan intractability. Will this two party system sell out Granite Staters as well?

Earlier this year, the Democratic-led House of Representatives rejected a casino for cash-strapped New Hampshire. In what appeared as a tit for tat reaction, The Republican-controlled Senate defeated increases in the gas and cigarette taxes despite a deplorable lack of funds for infrastructure improvements such as I93, etc.

Now, New Hampshire citizens are awaiting a decision on Medicaid expansion. Will the state legislature refuse an infusion of $2.5 billion in federal money earmarked to provide expanded healthcare services in NH. Washington is funding $100% of Medicaid expansion from 2014 to 2016, and its portion gradually decreases to 90% of the program’s cost thereafter, in the year 2020.

Medicaid expansion will requires states to offer Medicaid coverage to all workers who make up to 138% of the federal poverty level, currently $15,586 for an individual. That income correlates to an hourly wage of $7.62; therefore, 138% of that wage equals $10.51 per hour. Wow! That sounds like the approximate wages paid by big box stores to their retail employees. Well, maybe not that much.

For the sake of argument, let us assume that the typical, low-paid, New Hampshire employee makes that $10.51 an hour and: 1) pays no federal and, of course, no state income taxes but pays Social Security and Medicare taxes totaling 7.65% of income, or $139/month; 2) pays the state average of $886/month for a one bedroom apartment; 3) pays the state average of $272/month for food; 4) pays $170/month for gas ($3.50/gallon) by driving 45 miles a day to and from work in a car that gets twenty miles a gallon, and does no other driving.

Now, let’s look at the monthly numbers: Income is 420.40 per week times 4.33 weeks in a month equals $1820. Expenses are shelter $886. food $272, gas $170, and Social Security and Medicare taxes of $139 for a total of $1467. Subtraction reveals a remaining availability of $353 a month to buy a car, car insurance, car repairs, clothing forget healthcare and health insurance; It’s obvious such a worker can not afford it.

Under Medicaid expansion, 58 thousand, employed New Hampshire citizens will receive routine medical care instead of visiting hospital emergency rooms. A practice that increases the cost of health insurance and healthcare for individuals that do have health insurance coverage.

Will the NH State Legislature deny health coverage to 58,000 hardworking, low-paid, New Hampshire employees who do not receive insurance coverage from their employers? Will New Hampshire’s legislators stop the creation of 700 new jobs that Medicaid expansion will require?

Let’s hope that the New Hampshire state motto is still “Live Free Or Die”, not “Live Free And Die”.

Harlan Cheney