The Granite State is reaching out for PR agency help as it implements the vaguely named New Hampshire Health Protection Program, the state's Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act passed with a fragile bi-partisan alliance in Concord.

NH Gov. Maggie Hassan signs the healthcare expansion law on March 27.

The NH Department of Health and Human Services released an RFP on April 4, calling for a comprehensive outreach and communications plan touting the program to serve low-income populations with health insurance. The state agency wants to reach beneficiaries, providers, employers, insurers, advocacy groups, local governments and the public with its PR push.

The agency search will be short as pitches are due April 18. A firm is expected to be in place by April 23 to serve a contract through the end of June 2015. Enrollment for the healthcare program begins on May 1.

[View the RFP (PDF)].

The insurance program was passed on March 27 under a compromise between Gov. Maggie Hassan (D), Democrats and Republicans in the statehouse, but national Republican groups and conservative media have criticized the move because it is part of the Affordable Care Act's expansion of the federal Medicaid program.

Manchester Union Leader columnist Garry Rayno on March 1 summed up the dicey political and PR climate that surrounded its passage: "Medicaid expansion will be on the minds of many in Concord in the next month, but you will not hear the words 'Medicaid expansion' spoken. Instead, you will hear about the New Hampshire Health Protection Program and the premium assistance program, mandatory and voluntary. Whatever it is called, federal Medicaid dollars will pay 100 percent of the cost, or New Hampshire's 'assistance program' will end."