Substance abuse crisis could shape Medicaid expansion debate in New Hampshire

September 22, 2015

As lawmakers prepare for next year's political battle over Medicaid expansion, supporters said the state's ability to tackle a growing drug abuse problem will be dramatically reduced if the program comes to an end, The Associated Press reports. Expansion took months of negotiations between Republicans and Democrats throughout 2013 and into 2014. A bipartisan group of six senators, including the Republican Senate president and majority leader, crafted a deal that requires lawmakers to reauthorize the program when federal funding starts to dip below 100%. More than 40,000 people are now insured under the program, and it's estimated to cost the state about $12 million for the first half of 2017. "Medicaid expansion kind of allowed substance misuse providers to go from 0 to 60 from a service standpoint," said Abby Shockley, executive director of the New Hampshire Alcohol and Other Drug Service Providers Association. Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley said he'd like to continue the plan if lawmakers can show it is working and if it can be paid for without state tax dollars. He said the increased focus on the heroin crisis will be part of the discussions.