Medicaid Expansion – The Senate Votes to Starve NH

I watched from the Senate Gallery on Thursday as our Senators voted 13(R) - 11 (D) to pass their version of the NH budget without Medicaid expansion.  The discussion was long with competing points of view and points of concern. One often called note of caution, however, I simply do not understand.

One of the facts of the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion provision, as defined by the ruling by the Supreme Court last summer, is that it is voluntary.  Voluntary – NH can choose to get in, NH can choose to get out. I am completely befuddled by the argument that if NH gets in to take advantage of the 100% federal funding NH could not get out because no future legislature would make the decision to take healthcare away from the state’s residents. A senator, advocating waiting and studying, asked his colleagues to look in the mirror and ask themselves honestly if they could make the choice take healthcare away from NH residents.  Doesn’t that support the argument that it is the right thing to do? 

The information is complex but the decision is simple – people in NH are starving (for healthcare).  The NH Senate has the opportunity to feed them.  We have food for tomorrow, for the next day, we are told we have food for the week and after that we will have to share just a little of our food and we can keep the food coming.  We can feed the starving.  Some are worried that it is just a ploy to lure us into feeding the starving now and that the food will stop coming after a few days or a week – so they voted not to take it, allowing people to starve tomorrow. 

If I understand the vote Thursday, it was to continue to let people starve because feeding them for a day or a week and then no longer providing food would be too hard.  How could we look in the mirror and make that choice?  So people who would benefit from food even just for one day will continue to starve tomorrow.  We will study how much food people should get, and people will starve tomorrow.  We are worried we do not have enough places for people to eat, and people will starve tomorrow.  We aren’t sure we are comfortable with the food choices so people will starve tomorrow.  We may be able to grow the food more efficiently ourselves, we are going to think about planting the NH way - so people will starve tomorrow. 

People in NH are starving for healthcare, senator. Look in the mirror.