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NH Health

N.H. House authorizes Medicaid expansion to help more people get access to health care

Boston Globe

The New Hampshire House passed a bill to permanently authorize Medicaid expansion in a 193 to 166 vote on Thursday.

Debate on Senate Bill 263 took hours, with over 30 amendments discussed — as lawmakers grew nervous about getting stuck in Concord because of a road race scheduled to shut down nearby roads starting at 4 p.m.

House Speaker Sherman Packard tried to allay concerns by confirming with lawmakers that they would be able to use the road regardless of what time discussion concluded. He also promised snacks to tide over those who were getting antsy.

Lawmakers defeated attempts to add a sunset date for Medicaid expansion in 2029, add a work requirement, and require drug testing. They also rejected attempts to tack other unrelated efforts onto the bill, including marijuana legalization.


“The governor has outlined the exact parameters he needs before he will sign a cannabis bill. And this bill is not it,” said Walpole Democrat Lucy Weber, encouraging lawmakers to vote down the amendment. She repeated that refrain for each and every amendment that was presented.

Medicaid expansion helps more low-income people get access to health care. The program has been around for nearly a decade, emerging out of the Affordable Care Act. Without legislation to extend it, the program would expire at the end of 2023. Proponents of permanently authorizing Medicaid expansion said it will provide security and stability for Granite Staters.

Those who wanted a sunset date said that would allow the state greater flexibility to adapt to changing conditions.

Amanda Gokee can be reached at Follow her @amanda_gokee.