A GOP-majority state Senate this week agreed to an extension of Obamacare that makes more Granite Staters eligible for Medicaid health coverage.
The Medicaid extension is a state-option provision of the Affordable Care Act, much-maligned by Republicans and a likely campaign issue in the upcoming off-year congressional elections.
In fact, an earlier attempt in New Hampshire to extend the benefits to an estimated 50,000 poor residents of New Hampshire failed in the Senate after passing the House..
But this attempt - SB 413
- rose from a bipartisan agreement among Republican and Democratic leaders in the state Senate. While not all Republicans were on board, it passed the Senate 18-5 on March 6.
"The bipartisan plan underscores our continued commitment in New Hampshire to working through our challenges together, and I applaud President Morse, Senator Larsen and members of both parties for reaching across the aisle to achieve this progress,” Gov. Maggie Hassan said in a statement
“As is the case with any compromise, both sides demonstrated a willingness to be flexible and make difficult choices, and we will need to continue our bipartisan cooperation throughout the implementation process in order to maximize the benefits of health care expansion for our people and economy.”
The key this time around was putting private insurance into the mix. The measure uses the current managed-care Medicaid program, an existing program that pays the private health insurance premium for those on employer plans, and private insurance through the state's health insurance exchange to provide health insurance for the additional recipients.
See an Associated Press story (by way of Seacoast Online) on the measure here
It goes now to the House, which is Democrat controlled and has favored Medicaid expansion in the past. Gov. Hassan will surely sign in once in reaches her.
It’s a move supported by voters, according to a New England College poll as reported by WMUR
There was other action as well in Concord this week as the Legislature returned from a one-week break.
The House Ways and Means Committee voted against the bill (HB 1633
) that authorizes a single casino in the Granite State. The vote was 11-9 and it now moves into the full House, where casino-related bills have not fared well in the past.
The House said no to a measure that would have reduced the state tax on meals. HB 1597
would have decreased the tax from 9 to 8 percent. Representatives who voted against the bill expressed concern that New Hampshire would lose $24 million in revenue annually.
The House okayed a bill that tightens up regulations on charitable gaming. See a Union Leader story here
A Senate committee recommended legislation that raises the gas tax by 4 cents a gallon. Its sponsor removed the provision that ties futures increases to the consumer price index (CPI). See an NHPR story here
The House approved HB 1360
, which bans drivers from using handheld cell phones in the vehicles. It had the backing of the state Department of Safety, state Department of Health and Human Services, and police chiefs. See an Eagle-Tribune story here
The House approved a tweak of the medicinal marijuana law with a grow-your-own provision. The current law only allows licensed dispensaries to sell medical pot. See a Concord Monitor story here
The House Commerce and Consumer Affairs Committee recommended passing HB 1282
, which better protects consumers who have pre-buy fuel oil contracts. The recommendation comes as consumers once again are complaining about problems with Fred Fuller Oil and Propane. See an Eagle-Tribune story here
.Air Force tankers, Navy prison
Both the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and Pease Air Base were in the news this week.
The Navy is looking once again to lease the mammoth former prison on the shipyard property. Parts of the structure are more than 100 years old and asbestos abounds. According to WMUR
, the first time the Navy tried to redevelop the prison was in the late 1990s, when it signed a lease with New Hampshire developer Joseph Sawtelle to transform it into premium office space. The project fell through when Sawtelle died in 2000. The Navy tried again in 2008 but abandoned the effort in 2009.
Also, a new report says the shipyard pumps about $600 million into the area economy each year. See a Foster’s Daily Democrat report here
The U.S. Air Force held a public hearing Thursday night on plans to locate tnew in-air fuel tankers -- the KC-46A -- at Pease. According to Seacoast Online
, about a dozen people spoke at a public hearing at Portsmouth City Hall held to gather comment on a recently completed draft document that looks at the environmental implications of Pease as the site of the new aircraft.
Don’t forget to spring ahead tonight to gain that hour of daylight. Spring is in the air. Let’s hope it holds.
And don’t forget to head on over to our Facebook page
for always lively discussion on the issues of the day.
See you next week.