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New Hampshire strikes deal for Medicaid expansion

New Hampshire on Friday became the sixth state to earn approval from the federal government to launch its own version of the ObamaCare Medicaid expansion.

The plan will help about 35,000 uninsured people to buy private insurance plans. The program was negotiated by both the state’s Democratic governor, Maggie Hassan, and its GOP-controlled legislature.

“The New Hampshire Health Protection Program is reducing health care cost-shifting onto our families and businesses, strengthening the health of our workforce, and boosting our economy,” Hassan wrote in a statement.

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Medicaid expansion, which became optional for states after a Supreme Court ruling in 2012, has been opposed by most conservatives for fear of federal overreach and rising costs.

Under ObamaCare, all costs of an expanded Medicaid program are covered by the federal government for the first several years. But conservatives fear that states will be left with a far bigger budget problem.

States face no deadline to expand Medicaid, though healthcare experts have said 2015 is the best chance of convincing the remaining dozen states that have not yet expanded the program before the 2016 election.

The state is the sixth to earn a waiver from the federal government for the Medicaid expansion, just weeks after Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, a Republican, announced that he’d also struck a deal. Pence had spent more than a year negotiating with the Obama administration.