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LRGHealthcare welcomes expansion of Medicaid as important to fulfilling mission to provide superior care for all

LACONIA — Senior executives of LRGHealthcare welcome both the introduction of Medicaid managed care and the expansion of Medicaid enrollment, which they believe offer opportunities to improve the quality and control the cost of care while placing the corporation on a sound financial footing.

Tom Clairmont, president and chief executive officer, said yesterday that the changes in the offing will strengthen the ability of his company to pursue its mission of providing superior medical care to all members of the community. He explained that expanding Medicaid enrollment and establishing insurances exchanges would increase appropriate access to health care by reducing the numbers without insurance.

"It will put people on an equal footing by ensuring their access to primary care physicians," Clairmont said, "not just to the emergency room." He recalled that when Healthlink opened in 1993, it provided access to 3,500 families and reduced visits to the emergency room by half.

This spring LRGHealthcare entered agreements with the three managed care providers that will administer the state's Medicaid program — Boston Medical Center Health Plan, Inc., Centene Corporation and Meridian Health Plan. Henry Lipman, senior vice-president for Financial Strategies and External Relations, described managed care as the essential infrastructure for administering an expanded Medicaid program. "By contracting with all three managed care companies we're offering the maximum choice," he said.

At the same time, LRGHealthcare is one of 13 hospital companies participating in the health care exchange, through which those earning between 139-percent and 400-percent of the federal poverty level can purchase subsidized health insurance from private carriers. Currently Anthem is the only carrier participating in the exchange with three different plans, but Harvard Pilgrim, perhaps along one or more of the managed care companies, will join by 2015.

Lipman estimated that expanding Medicaid to enroll those with incomes of 138-percent of the federal poverty level would add approximately 6,000 patients to the rolls of LRGHealthcare. He anticipated that the corporation would serve another 3,000 or 4,000 who receive insurance through the exchange.

Andy Patterson, senior-vice-president for Provider Relations and Contracting, said that "we're seeing many of these patients already." However, he said that much of this population, rather than undergoing a regimen of continuing care, is seen only when their conditions become acute, requiring costly treatments and interventions. With insurance, Patterson said, these patients will have access to continual care, reducing the need for acute care, costly treatments and repeated visits.

Lipman said that extending access to this population would "bend the cost curve," stressing that utilization of services is a primary driver of rising costs. He noted that to reduce excessive utilization the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has begun penalizing hospitals with high readmission rates and said that LRGHeathcare is among those not to have been penalized. Patterson attributed the success to "embedded care coordinators," nurses who closely monitor the care and progress progress and care of discharged patients to forestall further costly hospital stays. He added that managed care of Medicaid patients would further ensure that services are provided in a coordinated manner.

Expanding and ensuring access, Clairmont emphasized, ensures continuous and preventative care, which enhances the quality of care in the best interest of the patients and reduces the cost of care in the best interest of the hospitals. Lipman pointed out that reducing the cost of serving of the Medicaid population, lessened the pressure to shift costs to those with private health insurance, which raises premiums for employers and individuals in the private market. "Expanding Medicaid is the right thing to do from a public health perspective and an economic perspective," he said.

In 2011, in response to reductions in Medicaid reimbursement rates and a projected operating loss of $4-million, LRGHeathcare closed a dozen primary care offices to some 3,500 Medicaid patients, who were referred to two community health centers and two rural health clinics. Lipman said yesterday that changes in the offing would render the reshuffling of the Medicaid population a thing of the past.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 27 August 2013 03:28

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Old Home Day Woodmen's games draw spur-of-the-moment competitors

GILFORD — It was a day for amateurs at the Gilford Old Home Day Woodsmen's Competition, which drew a large crowd of more than 350 people to a field next to the Gilford Elementary School Saturday.
Some 26 competitors took part, including Randy Morrissette, 48, of Lakeport, who showed up with some friends to watch the competition and decided at the last minute to enter the pole-climbing event.
Morrissette, who works at New Hampshire Ball Bearing and is a part-time tree worker, finished third with a time of 23.9 seconds, trailing only Osian Batchelder with a time of 18.49 seconds and Clark Goreau with 19.52 seconds.
''I was here with a bunch of friends who came down to watch it. They influenced me to give it a try,'' said Morrissette.
Also making the pole climb was Corey Lofblad, 50, of the Gilford Home Center, who provided the Stihl power saws used by competitors, and who later admitted that making it up the 40-foot pole to ring the bell was a lot of work.
''I could hear people yelling and encouraging me. I thought I was doing pretty good until I heard one of them yell 'keep at it. You're halfway there' and I started to wonder what I'd got myself into,'' said Lofblad.
Ross Breton of Gilmanton, 18, won the axe toss, said he's no lumberjack and that it was the first time he's ever thrown an axe in competition.
The 2013 Gilford High School graduate, who works at NAPA Auto Parts and at Meadowbrook, said that he hopes to come back next year and defend his axe throwing title.
''It was fun. a lot of my friends were cheering for me,'' said Breton.
Dale Squires, one of the organizers of the event and a Belknap Landscape Company employee, took part in the axe-throwing competition, taking fifth place.
''It was surprising how much you get involved and how intent you become on hitting the target,'' said Squires, who said that he was pleased to see so many local people getting involved in the competitions.
''It's great to have A.J. Dupere, head coach of the UNH Woodsman Team, here helping us run the event. He showed everyone who was new at this how to do it well, like the cross-cut saw competition and really encouraged the competitors,'' said Squires.
Bill Bickford of Kitchen Cravings, chairman of the Gilford Bicentennial committee, which brought the Woodsmen's Competition to Gilford last year, says that he hopes the event will become a major part of the town's Old Home Day festivities.
''Last year we held it on a Sunday because there were so many Bicentennial activities. It really fills a lull in Saturday activity and looks really popular. People were coming in to set up their lawn chairs before the parade started and were right back here watching us set up after the parade ended. As long as we have the continued support of local businesses like Belknap Landscape Company and the Gilford Home Center I think we'll do fine,'' said Bickford.

 

CAPTION:
Dale Squires of Belknap Landscape Company, who helped organize the Gilford Old Home Day Woodsmen's Competition, shows his delight when his axe hit the bulls eye in the axe throwing competition. (Roger Amsden/for The Laconia Daily Sun)

Last Updated on Tuesday, 27 August 2013 03:02

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Heritage Commission drawing line in sand at Hathaway House

LACONIA — "I think it's planned demolition by neglect," said Charlie St. Clair, speaking to the City Council last night about the failure of Cafua Management Company, LLC to maintain the Hathaway House next door to its Dunkin' Donuts store on upper Union Avenue.

In 2008, when construction of the Dunkin' Donuts was approved, Gregg Nolan of Cafua assured the Planning Board that the Hathaway House would be painted, in a color of the city's choosing, and fitted with fire alarm and suppression systems as required by the Fire Department. He said that Cafua Management Company had no immediate plans for the building other than to preserve it. City Councilor Armand Bolduc (Ward 6), at the time, lauded Nolan for his decision to preserve the Hathaway House, telling the board that "working with these people was wonderful. I can't say enough about them."

Again last night Bolduc said that after speaking with Nolan he believed the company would repair and paint the building when a maintenance crew was available.

"I don't think he has ever been serious about saving the Hathaway House," insisted St. Clair, whose mother owned the building where she operated a clothing store. "He couldn't care less about you or the city. It's all about making money."

St. Clair's remarks followed a plea by Dorothy Duffy on behalf of the Heritage Commission that the city strengthen its efforts to preserve historic buildings. In a statement, read to the council by Pam Clark, who chairs the commission, Duffy wrote that its members are "distressed and feeling derelict in our duties and reduced to doing the opposite of our intent. We are razing stately old dwellings to build parking lots." She attached photographs of buildings that have been both preserved and demolished along with others the commission fears are at risk.

In chairing the commission, Clark told the councilors she finds herself signing the permits to demolish the buildings she believes the commission was created to preserve. For instance, the Baker House on Mechanic Street, is being to demolished to expand the car lot at Cantin Chevrolet. "We haven't really accomplished anything," she said, "and we haven't had support from the community."

Clark wondered if there were some way to revise the demolition permit to afford historic buildings greater protection and was encouraged to discuss the issue with City Manager Scott Myers and Planning Director Shanna Saunders. She said that registering buildings as historic landmarks was the surest way to protect them, but that required the consent of the owner.

Clark said the commission needs resources and indicated she intended to submit a budget request later this year. The commission, she continued, also needs more members, particularly individuals with an appreciation of architecture and an ability to research deeds.

Councilor Matt Lahey (Ward 2) said the commission has fulfilled its role, which he said is "to sound the alarm," but was hard pressed to suggest what more could be done to preserve properties their owners preferred to demolish and redevelop.

Although Clark acknowledged that the commission faced a dilemma, returning to the Hathaway House she declared "we will fight to the end for this building."

NOTE: On the recommendation of Mayor Mike Seymour, the City Council authorized City Manager Scott Myers to meet with officials of Aavid Thermalloy, LLC to discuss changing the name of Primrose Drive South, where the company's headquarters are located. Recently the firm, which was begun in Laconia in 1964, announced that it was returning its corporate headquarters to the city from Concord. Seymour said that Primrose Drive South is often confused with Primrose Drive North on the opposite side of Lexington Drive and in recognition of the firm's presence in the city it could be renamed "Aavid Drive." . . . . . . The City Council unanimously agreed to a new two-year contract with LRGHealthcare to provide ambulance services to the city. City manager Sacott Myers said that the agreement mirrors that which expired in June. LRGHealthcare will pay the salary of the deputy chief for medical services, Shawn Riley, as well as of the four senior paramedics. The contract does not provide for the purchase of an ambulance, but can be renewed and amended to include a new ambulance if necessary.

Last Updated on Sunday, 17 November 2013 07:01

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Grand Jury indicts Center Harbor physician on prescription abuse charges

LACONIA — A Center Harbor physician who surrendered his medical license in July has been indicted by a Belknap County grand jury on two counts of writing a fraudulent prescription and for one count of identify fraud.

Belknap County Attorney Melissa Guldbrandsen said yesterday that Dr. Hasan A. Duymazler, 46, whose last known address was 24 Dew Point Lane also faced three additional criminal charges in Carroll County.

Duymazler is accused of writing a prescription for "Matthew Stewart" for oxycodone between January 21 and May 13 and filling it himself at the pharmacy at Hannaford's Supermarket in Gilford. He is also accused of doing the same thing between October 8, 2012 and December 30, 2012.

He also allegedly posed as another person for the purpose of filling one of the prescriptions on June 7, 2013.

Guldbrandsen said the indictments were the result of a N.H. State Police narcotics investigation.

Duymazlar was first criminally charged for obtaining a prescription by fraud on July 17 and trying to fill it in North Conway. On July 18 and after an emergency meeting of the N.H. Board of Medicine, Duymazlar surrendered his license to practice medicine.

At the time of his suspension Duymazlar had a practice in Wolfeboro.

According to a media release issued by the board of medicine on July 19, two separate pharmacists in two separate pharmacies in North Conway became suspicious when he tried to fill a prescription for oxycodone (a narcotic pain killer) at one and later tried to fill it at another.

When he was asked for identification by the first pharmacist, he couldn't produce any and pharmacist refused to fill the prescription. At some point in June the two pharmacists compared notes, recognized Duymazlar from his photograph on a N.H. hospital's Website, and contacted the state.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 27 August 2013 02:38

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