Hospitals Take the Lead in Push for Medicaid Expansion

Christopher Cheney, March 31, 2014

For years, hospitals have complained about low Medicaid payment rates. Now hospital associations are leading the fight to expand Medicaid to millions of low-income adults in two dozen states that have yet to embrace expansion.

Steve Ahnen

Steve Ahnen
President of the New Hampshire Hospital Association

Medicaid is no longer a dirty word in hospital boardrooms.

"Right now, someone is sitting in an emergency room because they didn't have coverage," said Steve Ahnen, president of the New Hampshire Hospital Association, last week after NH lawmakers cleared the path to Medicaid expansion in the Granite State by approving a Senate bill that resolved a yearlong political struggle over Medicaid expansion. "The ability to resolve that is to get people covered."

Ahnen says NH hospitals have been feeling the pinch from uncompensated care that totaled $425 million in 2013. "We believe [Medicaid expansion] will have a significant impact on relieving that burden," he said.

Medicaid Expansion, Payer Oversight Seen as Vital to Healthcare Reform

New Hampshire joins several states including Arkansas and Iowa that have chosen to expand Medicaid to income-eligible adults under the age of 65 through the new health insurance exchanges. As opposed to a straightforward expansion of a state's existing Medicaid program, the "premium-based model" allows states to use federal Medicaid expansion dollars to help low-income individuals fund the purchase of health insurance policies on the exchanges.


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