On March 25, the N.H. House passed the Senate’s compromise on expanded Medicaid. Once this bill becomes law, 50,000 more New Hampshire citizens will be covered by health care.
The bill from the Senate came to us as a bipartisan measure. In the House it did not pass without a long floor fight that ran pretty much along party lines. A check of the voting record will tell the story on this one. The Democrats were doing all they could do to pass this protection for the working people of our state. The Republicans were doing all they could to stall and kill this bill, even though it meant no coverage for those people.
The federal government will send us back our money to cover the first three years at 100 percent, but we are already late starting. Since Jan. 1 we have left a half a million dollars on the table per day that we no longer have access to, about $50 million to date. The people who need this protection couldn’t afford anymore stalling.
There were nine floor amendments. Many of these amendments had been offered and rejected at the many committees and commissions that have studied this for years. All knew that any accepted amendment at this point would delay the bill for months. After hours of voting and parliamentary maneuvering, we finally had the main bill before us and the last speaker was about to speak in favor of the measure. The speaker was Bob Elliott from Salem.
Elliott is the Republican representative who sits beside me in the House. In a well-crafted and delivered appeal, Elliott not only bucked his party but also challenged them to think of those who needed this protection. “This is not about Republican or Democrat, this is about people” and “if this means a few roads and bridges don’t get fixed, so be it” echoed in the hall. In my time in Concord, I had never heard a better, more heartfelt speech.
The bill passed the House that day and Governor Maggie Hassan signed it into law two days later. At the signing ceremony, I was privileged to stand again beside Rep. Elliott. I continue to be inspired by his courage to do what is right for the people of New Hampshire.
Jon Manley of Bennington represents Hillsborough District 3, which includes Bennington, Greenfield and Hancock.