Medicaid Expansion? Not for New Hampshire
by Rep. Len Turcotte
New Hampshire’s pending re-authorization of Medicaid Expansion, an optional part of Obamacare, allows able-bodied adults to receive free or subsidized healthcare paid for by hardworking taxpayers. Contrary to many perceptions, this new entitlement is not for children, the disabled or elderly persons as they are already covered by existing programs such as Medicaid, SSDI, and Medicare.
Here are a few random facts. Studies have shown that as many as 30% of new enrollees in Medicaid Expansion programs were previously paying their own healthcare insurance costs offered by their employer. But why pay for insurance if you can get others to pay for it? Additionally, since the eligibility is determined by income only, a person with millions of dollars in assets that performs no work, would be eligible for free health care paid by taxpayers. Estimates for the cost of this expansion is $500 million dollars which equates to $10,000 for each new enrollee. Expanding existing Medicaid would place nearly 15% of our state’s population on the entitlement. One of the big selling points of Medicaid Expansion was that it would reduce emergency room visits which are more costly than primary care visits. But according to New Hampshire’s own Hospital Association, ER room visits have increased since it was implemented.
A recent Op-ed by State Representative Verschueren from Dover misled readers by omitting some very important facts regarding HB1696, the Bill reauthorizing NH’s Medicaid Expansion program currently making its way through the legislature. I hope to clarify those omissions here. The drafters of the current bill included a dozen or so work related requirements that able-bodied individuals must perform in order to receive any benefits. These requirements were inserted merely as window dressing, however. The bill also included a paragraph (called a severability clause) that would allow Medicaid Expansion to continue even when the work requirements are denied by the Federal Government bureaucrats. To date, Washington DC has not allowed a single state to include work requirements in any Medicaid Expansion program. Believing the citizens of NH should have the final say in how our own programs operate, I introduced a floor amendment to remove this severability clause to ensure the work provisions were indeed a part of this program should it be re-authorized. This amendment was voted down.
A second amendment was approved by a vote of 308-42 to ensure our Veterans got equal care, access and treatment as would the new, able-bodied enrollees. Another amendment to the bill that passed would ensure only citizens of the United States (and no illegal aliens) would be eligible for these new benefits.
It is unfortunate that the Representative from Dover and others voted against these amendments. It illustrates how they would prefer allowing illegal aliens to receive health care and benefits that would exceed those given to our Veterans, as well as permitting Washington bureaucrats to interfere with New Hampshire’s desire for work mandates for recipients of Expanded Medicaid.
Lastly, the Rep from Dover stated that: “Sadly, using deceptive tactics, the opponents were able to get at least one of the most damaging ideas passed by burying it in a last-minute floor amendment on another topic.” The amendment to which the Rep refers contained only seven sentences, and the line which removed the “damaging idea” was in fact, the first line of the amendment, a single sentence in a paragraph by itself. Hardly deceptive, hardly buried and missed only by those who didn’t take the time to read the seven sentences presented before the session even began.
The re-authorization of Medicaid Expansion in New Hampshire is an unnecessary and expensive social program that creates more dependency on government. Instead, we should be striving for independence and self sufficiency. I urge you to contact your Senators and House Representatives to let them know you do not want your tax dollars supporting the able-bodied.
NH State Representative Len Turcotte – Barrington (Strafford District 4)