New Hampshire Legislators: Support Medicaid plan

To the Editor:

I am writing in support of the Medicaid expansion plan that was recently proposed by the New Hampshire Legislature and endorsed by Governor Hassan.

It has been frustrating watching our elected representatives and state leaders fail to reach any agreement over the past two years to find a way to provide health insurance to New Hampshire citizens who do not meet the financial standards to qualify for Medicaid.

Our elected officials have combined two separate issues regarding health care coverage and Medicaid expansion. The first issue is that people without health care insurance do not have access to health care. People state that no one is turned away from an emergency room if they go there, and that is correct. But, that is not the same as receiving health care. People die prematurely because they cannot afford medication or they cannot receive regular care for chronic illnesses, which require regular monitoring and follow-up. Going to an emergency room doesn’t provide that care. I find it hard to understand a country where we allow people to die because they don’t have an income adequate to afford insurance.

The second issue is how to expand Medicaid coverage. I can understand that there are differing views on the roles our state programs and private programs should play. I have my own views. I recognize that others may have differing views. My problem is that for two years, our Legislature could not reach agreement. That is unacceptable. Because they could not do their job, one that they were elected to do, citizens of New Hampshire suffered.

I hope that all our elected representatives will work to pass the proposed compromise recently introduced so that we can solve the first issue: Providing access to health care to all citizens of New Hampshire. To not do anything because they cannot agree on the second issue (how to do it) should not be an option. Anyone in our Legislature who simply votes against Medicaid expansion without providing an alternative plan is basically stating that the plight of the uninsured is not important enough for them to work to find another solution.

Not expanding Medicaid coverage would continue the “status quo,” which will continue a cycle of poor health, progression of disease and in some cases, death for those without access to regular health care.

Thank you.