Legislative Update June 12-June 16
This week, the budget committee of conference (CofC) reached agreement on a final version of a proposed state budget and budget trailer bill (HB 144 and HB 517 respectively).
Among many other things, the agreed-to version substantially increases funding on the mental health side and creates a number of new mental health beds in several different types of settings. It also establishes a medical director position at New Hampshire Hospital, which expressly could be an APRN. There is also increased funding for items such as long term care in both the nursing home and CFI settings. The CofC also passed a new work requirement under the NH Health Protection Program (Medicaid expansion). DHHS has to send the waiver request to CMS and the waiver has to be approved by April 30, 2018. If it is not approved, the Commissioner has to notify participants that the NH Health Protection Program will not be reauthorized when the time for that reauthorization arrives in December of 2018 (as you may recall, the Obama-era CMS rejected a similar proposal). The budget also codifies existing state administrative provisions prohibiting state dollars from funding abortion services.
These are only a few of the many provisions found in the hundreds of pages of the budget, and so we encourage you to go to nh.gov and examine the budget in more detail.
The vote is next Thursday. The budget will certainly pass the Senate, but the House vote will be close - remember that the House could not pass a budget back in March because the Democrats (who thought the budget was too low) joined forces with Republicans in the House Freedom Caucus (who thought the budget was too high), and that proved to be the margin that it took to prevent a budget from being passed. The big question will be whether the changes reflected in the committee of conference agreement are sufficient to change any votes this time around. The Governor will sign this budget if it passes on Thursday.
If no budget can be passed on Thursday, there would need to be a continuing resolution in order to keep the state running after June 30, the end of the state fiscal biennium. The terms of the CR almost certainly would be the numbers in the budget for the current biennium, and thus the CR would not include any of the increases that are included in the CofC version. A CR would keep the status quo in place until such time as a budget agreement could be reached that would gain a majority on the floor of the House and Senate.
Robert E. Dunn Jr. Esquire
Devine, Millimet & Branch
15 North Main Street, Suite 300
Concord, NH 03301