Community Support Network Inc (CSNI) has identified nearly 100 pieces of legislation (bills) during the 2022 session that may be of interest to Area Agencies, individuals and families who are involved with the Developmental Disability services system. Following are in-depth summaries of several key legislative issues in 2022.

Adult Dental Benefit Under Medicaid

Human service advocates have worked for many years to add a comprehensive/preventative adult dental benefit to NH’s Medicaid program. The goal is for adults on Medicaid to visit providers for oral health care and Medicaid would cover those costs. The empirical evidence shows this would enable more people to have healthier teeth and better overall health.

In the past four years, this issue has a long and confusing legislative history. In 2019, HB 4 was signed into law. This bill required DHHS to implement an adult benefit under Medicaid. The law also required the benefit to be active on April 1, 2021. For various reasons, the benefit was never even attempted to be implemented. As a result, in 2020 and 2021 bills on this issue were introduced, however, they failed to become law.

This year, we have two more bills (HB 103 and SB 422) that seek to get this benefit implemented.

Yesterday, the Senate Finance committee voted 6-0 to pass SB 422. The legislation requires DHHS to solicit information and to contract with dental managed care organizations to provide dental care to persons under the Medicaid managed care program. The bill also appropriates the settlement funds received by the state from its settlement with the MCO Centene Corporation (NH Healthy Families) for the state costs of the program. An amendment was approved that says the individual dental benefit shall be capped at $1,500 per year, excluding preventive services. The legislation will be on the Senate floor in March.

In addition, HB 103, which also seeks to establish the adult dental benefit is moving forward in the NH House. This bill was held in committee in 2021. This January it moved out of committee and passed the NH House with a 100-vote margin. However, because of the fiscal impact, this bill requires the work of a second committee. That committee (Finance) has already held two work sessions on the bill and a third is scheduled for March 1.

DD Pilot Program for Young Adults

Since 2019, there have been various legislative attempts to amend RSA 171-a relative to school enrollment status, age and how those two factors may affect DD Medicaid waiver eligibility.

As a result of these discussions and several court cases, DHHS elected (without legislative direction) to update their administrative rules. This change made it clear that when an individual is deemed eligible for developmental services and graduates or exists the school system (regardless of their age) they are entitled to Medicaid waiver funding within 90 days.

Since 2020, we have seen several legislative attempts to take this issue a step further by changing RSA 171-a to say that individuals between the ages of 18-21 who are still enrolled in school may be entitled to developmental services Medicaid waiver funding. These past legislative efforts have not become law.

The rationale of the supporters of this, (DHHS and DRC) is that in some circumstances, an individual’s needs cannot be met by the local school district, the In-Home Support Waiver, Family Support, Respite or other state or local services.

Because of this, DHHS has requested SB 430 in 2022. One section of this bill establishes a pilot program for individuals with developmental disabilities who are between ages 18-21 and are enrolled in school. SB 430 has already passed the Health and Human Services Committee and is currently awaiting action the Finance committee.

Requiring Local School Districts to Allow Students over age 21 to Remain in School

This session, there are two bills that modify the definition of "child with a disability" to include persons to 21 years of age and for the school year during which they turn 21. Those bills include SB 394 and HB 1513.

Both bills have had public hearings, however, neither has cleared the original chamber (House or Senate) that were introduced.

Background: SB 394 and HB 1513 will help enable students with Individualized Education Plans (IEP) to extend their public-school education until their 22nd birthday. Although most students graduate within four years, students with disabilities who need more time to learn can remain enrolled, usually in special programs, until age 21.

The Area Agencies work with families and individuals with disabilities on a postsecondary transition process based on their individual needs. We have seen that for students with special education needs often, another year in the school, especially in the setting they are familiar with, can make a tremendous difference.

Because of education changes brought on during COVID-mandated distance learning and other changes, it is more important than ever to ensure that our residents with developmental disabilities have the tools they need to transition out of our public school system to be become a full member of the community.

Currently, some school districts in NH allow students with disabilities to continue their education beyond age 21. Unfortunately, however, many require students to leave school on or near their 21st birthday regardless of their learning progress.

This legislation will provide much clarity to an important issue for students and families. It will also remove an excuse that some schools wrongfully use that they cannot allow students to stay in school beyond age 21, because of the state statute.

Contributed by Alex Koutroubas on behalf of CSNI.

For more information and to get involved, contact Sue Walthour, MDS Legislative Liaison:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..