CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — The New Hampshire House rejected a bill Wednesday that would have blocked the state from expanding Medicaid under the federal health care law.
The Democrat-controlled House voted 206-155 largely along party lines to kill former House Speaker William O'Brien's bill to ban the expansion supported by Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan. Hassan put money in her budget to administer the expansion.
O'Brien, a Mont Vernon Republican, argued that expanding Medicaid is unaffordable and unnecessary. He said that government promises to pay most of the cost of the expansion can't be trusted.
Rep. Dan McGuire, an Epsom Republican, said Medicaid does not pay the full cost of caring for patients now. The gap will be passed onto people with private insurance," he said.
"The cost of that insurance will go up," he said.
Ban opponents say New Hampshire's poor adults would benefit from getting health care, especially from a primary care doctor.
Rep. Thomas Sherman, a Rye Democrat and a doctor, said the uninsured have a higher risk of dying solely because of their uninsured status. He said some of his patients have illnesses that could be treated, but they don't have the money to pay for the medication or visits to his office to receive the care.
"Without our help, we know they will get sick more often and die at higher rates than us," he said.
New Hampshire's current program covers low-income children, parents with children, pregnant women, elders and people with disabilities. The expansion adds anyone under age 65 who earns up to 138 percent of federal poverty guidelines, which is about $15,000 for a single adult.