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HHS releases report on Medicaid expansion in NH

Associated Press Modified: November 15, 2012 at 4:01 pm •  Published: November 15, 2012

The study took into account the so-called woodwork effect of people eligible for Medicaid who aren't enrolled. Under the new law, their medical costs are matched at the current 50-50 rate with the state.

Randall Haught of the Lewin Group estimated that 58,000 of the 113,000 eligible for Medicaid under the new law would enroll. He said 22,000 people would enroll in Medicaid even if the state doesn't expand because of penalties for not being insured and other provisions in the law.

Haught said the study doesn't take into account the loss of federal aid to hospitals to help cover their costs of caring for the poor starting in 2014. The state qualifies now for up to $160 million a year in aid matched with the same amount of state money. The federal law assumes hospitals would have fewer poor people using emergency rooms for basic care if they are covered by Medicaid or buy insurance through a yet-to-be-created health exchange. Haught estimated the aid available could be half what it is now by 2020.

Democratic Gov.-elect Maggie Hassan campaigned in support of expanding Medicaid to extend coverage to people who can't afford insurance.

Hassan said in a statement Thursday that the injection of federal health care funding would help the economy. She said she would review the report but cautioned that "to have a full understanding of the financial impact, we will also need to examine the phases of the report that are still in progress, including an analysis of the benefits to our economy from the influx of federal dollars and the reduction of uninsured emergency room visits."