BY: Citizens Count
This year, a bill to create a healthcare scholarship program was shot down in the New Hampshire house.
The move was an attempt to address problems related to the state’s increasingly aging population:
- On one hand, New Hampshire’s population of younger, working-age adults has been shrinking. This means fewer young people working and contributing to the economy to support rising numbers of retirees.
- On the other, an increasingly older population is likely to put more pressure on the state’s healthcare system, which is already suffering a shortage of nurses and other workers.
To learn more about New Hampshire’s aging demographic, visit our issue page.
How the scholarships would work
The bill, HB 606, would have created a healthcare scholarship program in New Hampshire.
- New Hampshire high school students in the top 20% of their class would be eligible.
- They could receive up to $5,000 per year for four years towards tuition and books to study a healthcare-related field at any New Hampshire public college or university.
- The students would then have to work in a health field in New Hampshire for five years after graduation.
Why it makes sense
Supporters argued that the bill would help to address the state’s nursing shortage—which is likely to become an increasingly big problem as the population of the Granite State gets greyer—while also encouraging some of the state’s young people to stay here. They contend that high tuition rates have been driving students out-of-state for school, which makes them less likely to return and ultimately settle in New Hampshire.
The bill succumbed in part due to concerns over funding. The state budget has been squeezed in recent years, and some argue that there are higher priorities for state spending. Others noted that the state budget this year already funds a new scholarship program through the Governor's office. Finally, there were concerns that it would be extremely difficult to track students after graduation and enforce the requirement to work in-state in health care.