RAYMOND — Part of the Senate version of the budget, which stayed in the final budget version, was the removal of expanded Medicaid, and instead creating a commission to study the advantages and disadvantages of expansion. There are, in my humble opinion, many myths about the value of expanding, including:
Myth - If New Hampshire doesn’t expand Medicaid we will be passing up $2.5B in free federal money. Fact - There is no free federal money, it’s your tax dollars. We already have a $3.8T, (T - as in trillion) federal budget, and nearly $17T in federal debt. Any expansion would just add to both.
Myth - All the other states are doing it. Fact - twenty-six states have took the wait and see approach, studying the issues. Why shouldn’t we also study it first? With budget passed, we will.
Myth - In NH expanded Medicaid, 58K people currently without insurance would be covered. Fact - As I understand it, of that 58K, only 24K are currently uninsured. Thirty-four thousand currently have private health insurance, but would be shifted onto Medicaid at the taxpayers expense. Why?
Myth - Expanding Medicaid does not cost the state anything. Fact - Federal programs always cost the state in the end. In over the next seven years, it is estimated a net cost to the state would be up to $200M. Once federal match drops to 90%, it would cost the state nearly $50M annually.
Medicaid expansion is a very serious matter that truly deserves a full comprehensive study, and a fair straight up or down vote of the full legislature, completely separate from our state budget or any of state business. I was very happy that we are able to keep the creation of this “Medicaid Study Committee” in the budget, to study the costs and benefits, if any, of expanding Medicaid.