N.H. to Seek Federal Money For Health Programs

The state is moving forward on a plan to seek federal money to pay for mental health and substance abuse treatment programs, which is one piece of the new Health Protection Program that’s aimed at expanding and improving coverage for low-income people.

The joint fiscal committee gave the Department of Health and Human Services permission Thursday to submit a waiver to the federal government asking for the money.

The application approved Thursday is for what’s known as a “demonstration waiver.” Under this program, the federal government gives matching dollars to states for programs that deliver health care in innovative ways aimed at reducing costs. If approved, the waiver will bring roughly $274 million in additional federal dollars into the programs.

The new money will go toward enhancing community mental health programs, paying for workforce development initiatives aimed at substance abuse treatment, establishing an oral health program for pregnant women and increasing support for children with emotional disturbances, among other things.

Fifty-eight percent of adults who received state Medicaid services in 2011 and 2012 had a mental health or substance abuse problem, according to the state’s application.