CONCORD, N.H. — New Hampshire nursing homes could lose $7 million in expected Medicaid reimbursements as part of a plan to close a $58 million budget hole at the state’s Department of Health and Human Services.
‘‘We don’t have a whole lot of options,’’ department Commissioner Nick Toumpas told lawmakers on Friday.
Members of a joint legislative fiscal committee strongly opposed the cuts, but the changes do not require approval from legislators.
‘‘We have got to find a different way to help you satisfy this shortfall without taking it out on these old folks,’’ state Senator Andy Sanborn of Bedford said.
Health and Human Services’ $58 million shortfall is largely due to an increase in the number of children eligible for Medicaid, administrative costs from implementing New Hampshire’s Medicaid expansion plan, and the state’s settlement of a lawsuit over mental health services.
Toumpas presented about $45 million worth of cuts and savings Friday, including the cut to nursing homes. An additional $9 million in savings comes from not filling vacant positions. Lawmakers were only concerned about the nursing home cuts.
The Department of Health and Human Services accounts for nearly half of the state’s two-year, $10.7 billion budget, which ends June 30. Governor Maggie Hassan is drafting a proposal for the next budget.
Each year, money not spent from the budget for nursing homes and home care services goes back to the providers through increased Medicaid reimbursement rates, which lawmakers believe is required. But Toumpas wants to use this year’s amount, $7 million, to help plug his department’s shortfall. Hassan’s office has approved the plan.
‘‘Their surplus money from 2014 would have gone to increased rates and payments, and while extremely worthwhile, it would be hard to justify cutting the existing services or rates to pay for rate increases,’’ said Hassan’s spokesman, William Hinkle.