NH won't expand Medicaid for now

New Hampshire is likely to become one of the very few states on the Eastern Seaboard that will not expand Medicaid eligibility with the rollout of the Affordable Care Act next year, while Montana nurses are pushing to place the issue on that state's ballot.

New Hampshire's legislature had scheduled a special session to discuss Medicaid expansion, but it concluded last week by tabling a bill to address the issue, the Concord Monitor reported. Apparently the issue caused a rift among the more conservative of New Hampshire's Republican bloc, which refused to vote in favor of an expansion plan with the rest of its party.

"We offered Senate Republican leadership nearly everything they asked for; all we wanted was a plan that would actually work from day one and for the long term. But Senate Republicans refused to budge, putting ideology first and the people of New Hampshire second," Gov. Maggie Hassan, a Democrat, told the Monitor.

One proposal remains active: Allowing low-income residents not eligible for Medicaid to receive subsidies to purchase coverage via the health insurance exchange. Lawmakers have bandied about such a proposal for the last few months. But the Monitor noted that obtaining a waiver from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services could take years.

Meanwhile, the Montana Nurses Association is working with a coalition of groups to get voters to approve Medicaid expansion for the state by 2015, the Missoulian reported. Montana's lawmakers have already declined federal funding to expand the program under the ACA. The initiative would require at least 24,175 signatures from registered voters representing specific proportions of each of the state's 100 legislative districts.

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, a Democrat, supports Medicaid expansion, but the GOP-dominated legislature blocked it.

"Unfortunately, a handful of legislators used procedural tricks to stop the measure--and now our taxpayer dollars are going to pay for healthcare in New Jersey and California, while Montanans get nothing," Kevin O'Brien, Bullock's deputy chief of staff, told the Missoulian. "That needs to change."

To learn more:
- read the Concord Monitor article
- here's the Missoulian article

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