The NH legislative session is in full swing, with a lot of energy around multiple bills.  While the Senate took a winter break a couple of weeks ago, the House chose not to do the same, in part, due to the significant number of bills introduced in the House this year, and the fact that the House Finance Committee is busy working on the SFY 18/19 State Budget. Both the House and the Senate have been busy dealing with many hearings on a variety of bills.
 
The House Finance Committee's work on the next biennium State Budget (2018/2019) is well under way. The State Budget for FY 2018/2019 will take several months of review and changes before it is finalized. The House Finance Committee divides their work into three divisions for the purposes of their budget review work.  Division III is our priority, as they are solely focused on the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). The House Finance divisions will finalize their review and provide their recommendations on changes (increases/decreases) to the Governor's proposed budget in the next couple of weeks. The full Finance Committee will vote on the budget recommendations by early April, with their recommendations going to the full House soon after. Then the process starts all over in Senate Finance, as well as Senate Ways and Means Committees.
 
NHHA and our members have significant concerns with the proposed annual budgeted uncompensated care funding levels for Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) payments owed to the acute care hospitals. The proposed budget underfunds the DSH program by approximately $150 million over the biennium, and potentially violates the settlement agreement reached in 2014 between the state and the hospitals, after two Superior Court judges had ruled that the Medicaid Enhancement Tax (MET), which is used to fund the DSH program, was unconstitutional.  
 
The settlement agreement established minimum and maximum levels of funding needed to sustain the DSH program and protect both the state and hospitals. Hospitals are projected to pay MET taxes of approximately $236 million in FY 2018 and $243 million in FY 2019, with DSH payments expected to be at the agreed upon cap of $241 million each year. The Governor's budget, which funds DSH at approximately $166 million per year for the next two years, would be in violation of the settlement agreement.
 
Hospitals will have paid about $440 million in MET taxes in this biennium,  which when used for the Medicaid program generates another  $440 million in federal match the state can use to fund its other Medicaid obligations.  To put it another way, the state has been able to rely on $880 million to fund the Medicaid program without having to put forward a single state general fund dollar.  That's good for the Medicaid program.  It's good for patients.  It's good for hospitals.  And it's good for the state of New Hampshire.
 
NHHA testified on HB 1 and HB2, the House budget bills, this week and we emphasized that is our belief that the prudent approach to the budget would be to budget the DSH program at the agreed upon cap s outlined in the MET settlement agreement.  
 
All of the bills that NHHA is following can be found on our web site at http://bills.nhha.org and includes links to bill language, the prime sponsor, hearing dates/times and the current status of the bill.

 

Download the March 2016 Legislative Newsletter 

 

Please find below a downloadable list of all state laws affecting hospitals as a result of the 2016 NH Legislative Session.

State Laws Affecting Hospitals

 

NHHA Advocacy Staff

Steve Ahnen, President

603.415.4250

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Kathy Bizarro-Thunberg, Executive VP, Federal Relations

603.415.4252

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Paula Minnehan, VP, State Government Relations

603.415.4254

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Travis Boucher, Director, Fiscal Policy & Reimbursement

603.415.4253

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Debbie Augustine, Legislative Assistant

603.415.4256

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