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N.H. Senate will vote on abortion bills

CONCORD, N.H. - The New Hampshire Senate is taking up a half-dozen abortion bills Wednesday, including one that could jeopardize the state’s federal funding for its Medicaid program.

The bill would cut off taxpayer funding to hospitals, clinics, and others who perform elective abortions, although an amendment proposes exempting hospitals. That would end funding to six Planned Parenthood of Northern New England centers and several other rural clinics.

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The amendment’s sponsor - state Senator Gary Lambert, Republican of Nashua - hopes to reduce the financial impact on the Medicaid program, but he says he does not know what risk remains.

Health and Human Services Commissioner Nicholas Toumpas cautioned the Senate in letters that the bill could imperil the state’s $1.4 billion annual state-federal Medicaid program. About half the funding is federal.

“That wasn’t feasible. That would have been a financial nightmare for the state,’’ Lambert said Monday.

But Toumpas stressed Monday that the amendment does not eliminate the risk to the Medicaid program that includes services to the disabled, mentally ill, women, children, and the elderly in nursing homes. “All that would become at risk [if the bill became law],’’ said Toumpas.

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