As members of the New Hampshire legislature, our top priority is to ensure that every piece of legislation we pass and that every dollar spent is done in a sensible way that truly benefits the residents of our state.
We like to have real data – real numbers – to know the facts about what effect the laws we are passing will have on our constituents. We are proud to say that the Granite Advantage Health Care Program, commonly known as Medicaid Expansion, has proven to be an overwhelming success.
To give a little history, Medicaid Expansion was first passed in 2014 after much bipartisan debate to find a program designed for our state. It was reauthorized twice in 2016 and 2018 and is scheduled to sunset again at the end of 2023.
From a healthcare standpoint, the program’s results speak for themselves: The number of uninsured patients seeking emergency room care reduced by 63 percent; uninsured inpatient admission reduced by 57 percent; and uninsured outpatient admissions reduced by 41 percent. For New Hampshire hospitals, the cost of uncompensated care attributable to the uninsured has dropped dramatically from $173 million in 2014 to $69 million in 2021.
This drop in uncompensated care is important because uncompensated care gets folded into rates paid by insurers for services provided by hospitals, making it a hidden tax on private insurers and a cost for businesses and individuals with private insurance.
In addition to providing essential healthcare coverage to those who need it, Medicaid Expansion has also had a positive impact on insurance rates in New Hampshire. Insurance rates in the individual market have declined significantly, with the benchmark monthly insurance cost for a 40-year-old non-smoker dropping from $402 in 2019 to $309 in 2022. This is the lowest benchmark rate in the nation, according to the Urban Institute and Robert Woods Johnson Foundation.
We have also set into statute several important taxpayer protections. The program is currently funded 90 percent by the federal government and the remaining 10 percent from non-general fund sources such as various existing health care taxes and fees and the liquor fund. No state general funds are allowed to fund this program, and if the federal government breaks its 90 percent funding promise, this program would automatically sunset. In addition, only New Hampshire residents who are legal citizens or legal permanent residents that meet a five-year residency requirement are eligible for Medicaid Expansion.
It is clear to us that the Granite Advantage Health Care program has been a great success and has been working just as intended. This is why we strongly support SB 263, which would reauthorize this program.
As discussed above, the function of this program as designed has been proven time over to the point that there is no longer even a serious debate about its merits. SB 263 will provide an increased sense of stability and predictability to the program, creating more competition among Medicaid MCOs and helping to further lower health insurance costs for all NH citizens. Like any private business, MCOs and other health care organizations are more likely to invest in the health care infrastructure of our state if they see long-term stability. Stability will mean lower costs for consumers and providers.
Moreover, this bill strengthens the oversight commission, which includes members of both the House and Senate. This commission is tasked with ensuring that the program is running as intended. If the commission finds anything that any member of the legislature finds problematic with the program, legislation for tweaks or changes to the programs can be filed that very year to resolve the problem.
As conservative members of the legislature, we have done our homework on this legislation and are very confident that it is right for our constituents and for our entire state. We will be proudly supporting passage of SB 263 and look forward to this important piece of legislation heading to the governor’s desk.