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Latest News - May 2014

May 18, 2014
The New Hampshire Union Leader, Manchester, State House Dome column
Source: insurancenewsnet.com
By: Garry Rayno

We are about to enter either crunch time, or the world series of lawmaking, depending on your perspective. The House and Senate will try to reconcile different versions of the same bill in what are called "committees of conference"-- when four House members and three Senators negotiate, but not always successfully. All of them are orchestrated by two opposing...

We are about to enter either crunch time, or the world series of lawmaking, depending on your perspective.

The House and Senate will try to reconcile different versions of the same bill in what are called "committees of conference" -- when four House members and three Senators negotiate, but not always successfully.

All of them are orchestrated by two opposing corners on the third floor of the State House, the Senate President's office and the House Speaker's office.

Differences can be resolved in a quick walk between the offices, but sometimes it takes days to get from one side of the building to the other.

One thing to remember is that anything can happen. Bills once thought dead are miraculously resurrected, and sure things can become just paper in the trash.

All the cards are on the table, although most of the time the numbers and suits are invisible. Often, a half-dozen bills are intertwined not by subject matter, but strategically so one bill won't move forward without agreement on the others attached.

Everyone knows the most important conference committee this year will be the Medicaid Enhancement Tax.

If all goes as planned, there will be a joint conference committee on Senate Bill 369 and House Bill 1613.

The House bill has been amended to include the Senate's preferred solution to fix the MET. Two judges said it is unconstitutional because it taxes hospitals but not other providers of identical health care services.

The Senate wants to phase out the tax over a number of years and help offset the revenue with additional insurance premium taxes as more people sign up for insurance or qualify for Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. It would also use matching federal money through the Medicaid program.

At the same time, the plan would boost reimbursement rates for Medicaid services, but reduce state payments for services that hospitals provide but are not paid for.

The House version would clarify lawmakers' intent to use the MET revenue for health care programs and eliminate a provision allowing the money to go into the general fund.

The two-step House plan would also expand the tax base to include other health care providers beyond hospitals -- if the Supreme Court upholds the superior court rulings.

 

 


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