The chairman of the Senate Finance Committee expressed some interest today in accepting federal funds through Medicaid to provide health coverage to more people in New Hampshire – but he’s worried about what happens after the first few years.
“We’re buying into something pretty big here,” Sen. Chuck Morse, R-Salem, said today during a meeting of the Finance Committee with Medicaid Director Katie Dunn.
It was one of the first times he’s spoken publicly about the proposal to extend Medicaid to more low-income adults, an opportunity currently included in the House version of the budget.
A growing number of Republican leaders, including governors like Jan Brewer in Arizona and John Kasich in Ohio, have decided it makes sense to extend Medicaid to more people in their states given that the federal government pays 100 percent of the costs for the first three years and never less than 90 percent after 2020 under federal law.
The discussion in Senate Finance today revolved around the costs and savings after the first few years. For the short term, estimates for the next budget biennium suggest the state would save more than it spends administering the program.
“What happens two years from now?” Morse asked, suggesting this was not a program New Hampshire could afford for the long-term.
Dunn said it may prove a better use of the state’s health care dollars to extend coverage to people without insurance and provide some preventive care rather than pay for their emergency care.
New Hampshire also is free to end its participation at any time.
Among the questions the senators asked: What would hospitals save in uncompensated care costs if more low-income people had insurance through Medicaid?
The Senate Finance Committee plans to meet again with state health officials on Friday, May 17, to get answers to as many questions as possible about Medicaid managed care and the opportunity to use federal funds to extend Medicaid.