Letter: Medicaid Expansion Makes Sense

To the Editor:

As the director of adult clinical services at West Central Behavioral Health, I was extremely disheartened by the New Hampshire Senate’s vote last week to block the state’s participation in Medicaid expansion. This means that over 55,000 low-income, uninsured adults will continue to receive either no health care, or the most expensive, least efficient health care there is — in the hospital emergency room. People experiencing a mental health crisis all too often end up in emergency rooms where the care they receive isn’t adequate, effective or sustainable. Community-based care, which Medicaid would help pay for, costs less and is proven to be far more successful in treating individuals with mental illness.

Opponents of Medicaid expansion refer to the Oregon study, which they report shows that Medicaid in that state hasn’t improved physical health. What they fail to mention is that the study was extremely limited in terms of time, size and health measurements. They also fail to mention that New Hampshire isn’t Oregon.

New Hampshire has an incredible opportunity this year to gain access to federal dollars to provide health care coverage to our working poor. Expanding Medicaid makes sense on all levels — economically, financially, clinically, and morally. Please call or write your senators and ask them to do the right thing for New Hampshire.

Heather W. Prebish