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AARP AARP States New Hampshire Health & Wellbeing

It’s Time to Set in Stone the Granite Advantage Health Care Program

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By Christina FitzPatrick, State Director, AARP New Hampshire

Right now, all across New Hampshire, 94,000 hardworking Granite Staters are holding their breath, wondering if the program that helps keep them healthy is going to continue to be around for them. That program is Granite Advantage Health Care, which has been improving the lives of our families, friends and neighbors since 2014.  

The Granite Advantage Health Care Program is important to many people, but especially to those age 50-64 with low income (below about $20,000 for an individual or $41,00 for a family of four). Why?  Because without it these folks may lack health insurance and be ineligible for coverage through Medicaid, and they are at greater risk than younger people for having health care needs. Prior to its creation, individuals without health insurance who were unable to afford coverage had little to no alternative unless they had a disability, had a young child, or were age 65 and older.  Older workers outside of these categories received no help.  

Access to health insurance is critical, especially for older workers. People without health insurance tend to delay care which can lead to late diagnoses, poor outcomes, and more expensive treatment. People in their 50s and 60s are more likely than those who are younger to have a chronic health condition in need of management. Furthermore, the lack of health insurance can make it harder for them to stay in the workforce, support themselves and their families, and contribute to their communities and New Hampshire’s economy.

The ongoing positive impact of Granite Advantage Health Care is profound and is felt by far more than the individuals it directly serves. It has created cost savings for the state by keeping people healthy and by reducing the amount of uncompensated care that hospitals provide to people who are uninsured. That translates into less spending by state government and lower health insurance premiums for employers and workers.   All with New Hampshire paying only 10% of the costs and getting a $500 million infusion of federal dollars every year.

And yet, every few years Granite Advantage Health Care is subject to reauthorization, causing instability across the state’s economy as well as anxiety for its enrollees. It’s time to change that.  Right now in Concord, the House of Representatives is considering a bill, SB 263, which would permanently extend the Granite State Health Care Program. Doing so would be a win/win for New Hampshire all across the board. It would ensure access to health care for hard working Granite Staters; it would provide widespread stability for key health care stakeholders including the Department of Health and Human Services and the small rural hospitals that we know are the backbone of health care services in New Hampshire communities; and it would help small businesses retain valuable employees who rely on the program for their health care coverage.              

On behalf of our 210,000 members across the state, AARP New Hampshire urges the legislature to vote in favor of SB 263. For the health of our families, friends and neighbors, and for the stability it will contribute to New Hampshire’s economy, it’s time to make the Granite Advantage Health Care Program permanent.      

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