News Abortion

New Hampshire Senate To Vote On Barring Taxpayer Funding of Any Place That Performs Abortions

Robin Marty

In another "money is fungible" push, the state is willing to possibly give up over a billion in Medicaid funding to ensure not one dollar is paid to someone who provides an abortion.

The New Hampshire senate is preparing to vote on a bill that will ban “taxpayer dollars” from going to any person or place that performs “elective” abortions — even hospitals. And the move could cut off all funding to their Medicaid program in the process.

Via NECN.com:

A New Hampshire Senate committee is holding a hearing on a bill that would cut off taxpayer funding to hospitals, clinics, doctors and others who perform elective abortions.

State officials believe the bill could jeopardize New Hampshire’s $1.4 billion annual Medicaid program because states aren’t allowed to exclude providers from the program based solely on the range of services provided.

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The bill is just one of the slew of anti-choice measures being pushed in the state this year, including “informed consent” and a 24 hour wait period. Those who are proposing the bill say that any practitioner or entity that performs abortions can simply “create separate business entities” to cover the abortion portion of their business, which would increase expense and bureaucracy but apparently appease the anti-choice advocates’ consciences.

The funding ban bill has already passed the House.

News Health Systems

New Hampshire, Florida Scramble Toward Medicaid Expansion Alternatives

Nina Liss-Schultz

As the Supreme Court decision to cut financial subsidies for the health insurance of millions of Americans looms, many states are still grappling with the question of whether to expand Medicaid in the traditional way outlined by the Affordable Care Act.

As the Supreme Court decision to cut financial subsidies for the health insurance of millions of Americans looms, many states are still grappling with the question of whether to expand Medicaid in the traditional way outlined by the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

And this month, two states, Florida and New Hampshire, considered their answers.

Federal officials on Friday approved a New Hampshire plan to use federal Medicaid dollars toward the private insurance premiums of low-income residents. The plan, hardly an expansion of Medicaid so much as of private insurance, makes New Hampshire the sixth state to get federal approval to implement an alternative to the public insurance program.

Under the ACA, opposed and undermined by Republican state lawmakers for years, states can decide whether or not to expand Medicaid eligibility to people earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level. States can also create an alternative to the expansion outlined by the ACA, though they first must be granted a “waiver” by the federal government.

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Only 28 states plus Washington, D.C. have opted to expand Medicaid. Of those, six states, including Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, and now New Hampshire, have received federal waivers to launch alternative expansions, as legislators in favor of health-care reform struck compromises with those who have fought the expansion of health care for their constituents.

“While the waivers are each unique,” say researchers for the Kaiser Family Foundation, “they include some common provisions such as implementing the Medicaid expansion through a premium assistance model, charging premiums, eliminating certain required benefits (most notably non-emergency medical transportation), and using healthy behavior incentives.”

The New Hampshire plan will also include a mandatory work referral program, meant to connect low-income people, assumed to be out of work, with job opportunities.

“Because of our bipartisan health care expansion plan, more than 36,000 hard-working Granite Staters now have peace of mind and financial security that comes with quality, affordable health insurance,” Democratic New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan said in a statement. “The premium assistance waiver will allow these people to choose among private insurance plans offered on the health insurance marketplace.”

Meanwhile, a Florida state senate committee on Tuesday unanimously approved a bill that would accept federal money for its own alternative to Medicaid expansion. SB 7044, introduced and passed by the Committee on Health Policy, would expand private insurance coverage to certain adults making between 100 and 138 percent of the federal poverty level.

Those adults, who must have children to qualify, would receive federal money to help cover the cost of private insurance premiums. Floridians must also have a job or be in school to meet the program’s eligibility criteria.

The bill would insure nearly one million Floridians, according to state estimates.

“The Florida Senate proved again today that they are willing to do what’s right for Florida by backing an affordable, private health care coverage options for low-income Floridians,” said A Healthy Florida Works, the coalition behind the bill, in a statement. “We thank the Senators in the Healthy POlicy Committee for unanimously passing SB 7044.”

The bill’s approval by the senate panel on Tuesday comes as the state faces a potential $1 billion budget hole as early as this summer.

The federal government funds the Low-Income Pool, a program that reimburses Florida hospitals for treating uninsured patients. That funding agreement ends in June, and the federal government has said it may not continue to give money to a program delivering care to people who would be insured by Medicaid, if the program were expanded in the state.

State senators have reignited talks to expand Medicaid as a way to appease the federal government, and ensure that hospitals won’t face deep cuts if the Pool program funding ends.

“The passage of this bill is a responsible, realistic act,” Senate Majority Leader Bill Galvano, a Republican, told the Palm Beach Post.

Still, expansion remains divisive among House Republicans, who successfully opposed expansion in previous legislative sessions. Those Republicans contend that they are against receiving federal money tied to the ACA, and say they worry the Obama Administration will not follow through on its payment process.

Those concerns have so far proven unfounded.

Republican state Sen. Don Gaetz, a former senate president, told the Palm Beach Post he believes it is “intellectual dishonesty” to accept federal money for one health program while rejecting the same for another.

Florida Republican Gov. Rick Scott, a former hospital executive whose company paid more than $600 million in fines for defrauding Medicare, recently came out in support of Medicaid expansion after years-long opposition.

If Florida expands Medicaid, it would be the second-largest state to do so, after California.

News Law and Policy

New Hampshire Lawmaker Tries to Strip Funding for Women’s Health Services

Nina Liss-Schultz

Women’s health centers in New Hampshire could lose state money for all services they provide under a bill to be introduced this legislative session.

Women’s health centers in New Hampshire could lose state money for all services they provide under a bill to be introduced this legislative session.

Republican state Rep. Warren Groen announced last week that he plans to propose legislation that would bar organizations that perform abortion or refer patients for abortions at other facilities from receiving any taxpayer money.

The Hyde Amendment already prohibits the use of federal money for abortion, and in New Hampshire public money is not used for abortion services except in case of rape, incest, or maternal risk.

The New Hampshire bill would go a step further than federal law by stripping public money from organizations that offer abortion services, even though the public money would not be used for those services directly.

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“In my opinion, [these clinics] are hardly a good choice for health care unless your definition of health care is killing a child,” Groen said of the reasoning behind his bill, which is being drafted.

There were 13 abortion providers in New Hampshire as of 2011, including five Planned Parenthoods, that rely on state money for a variety of other reproductive health services, including medical screenings, sexually transmitted infection treatment, and family planning.

“While Representative Groen has made clear that his intention is to de-fund Planned Parenthood, the true impact of this bill will be felt by the nearly 16,000 patients each year who rely on our preventive health care—the services like cancer screenings, breast exams, and access to birth control,” Jennifer Frizzell, a spokesperson for the Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, said in a statement.

Groen introduced a similar bill, HB 228, in 2011. The bill passed the state house but was rejected handily by the senate.

The Planned Parenthood of Northern New England clinic system saw 42,649 patients in 2013. Fifty four percent of the services the system provided were related to family planning, counseling, or contraception; 17 percent were annual exams and cancer screening and treatment; and 6 percent were abortion-related services, according to Planned Parenthood’s annual report.