Supporters say the bill would improve the health of currently uninsured residents by providing access to affordable preventive and primary care. They say that would reduce the amount of uncompensated care provided by hospitals, which could help drive down premium costs and help struggling businesses.
Opponents argue the state's financial liability should be capped to protect taxpayers.
New Hampshire is one of six states that have not decided whether to expand Medicaid under the federal healthcare overhaul law.
The Senate bill would use 100% federal funding to expand the healthcare coverage. Anyone under 65 who earns up to 138 percent of federal poverty guidelines — about $15,856 a year for a single adult — could qualify.
The state estimates that 12,000 adults could begin receiving coverage in as little as a month under an existing program to subsidize employer-based coverage while 38,000 others would receive coverage through the state's Medicaid managed care program starting this summer. The adults on managed care would be moved onto private insurance in 2016 if a federal waiver is approved by March 31, 2015. If the waiver is denied, their coverage would be phased out over three months.
Under the plan, the expansion would end if federal funding drops below 100 percent and would end regardless at the end of 2016 if the Legislature doesn't reauthorize it.