Tufts Health Freedom Plan approved for sale in N.H.; LRGH a part owner

LACONIA — With the approval of the New Hampshire Insurance Department, the Tufts Health Freedom Plan, an insurance company owned by the members of the Granite Healthcare Network,LLC, among them LRGHealthcare of Laconia and Tufts Health Plan of Watertown, Mass., will begin offering health insurance throughout the small group market in New Hampshire.

The Tufts Freedom Plan was formed in March as the first health insurer owned by healthcare providers. LRGH joined with Catholic Medical Center (Manchester), Concord Hospital, Southern New Hampshire Health System (Nashua) and Wentworth-Douglass Health System (Dover) to create the Granite Healthcare Network in 2011 with the intention of leveraging the resources of its members to enhance the quality and control the cost of care by managing common risks, sharing best practices, exchanging information and making joint purchases.

Headquartered in Concord, the Tufts Health Freedom Plan expects to provide a broad network that will include all 26 hospitals in New Hampshire. The company will compete with other carriers for a share of the small group market, which represents about the lion's share of the insurance business in the state. The company will draw on the resources of the Tufts Health Plan to achieve operating efficiencies. Initially the Tufts Heath Freedom Plan will not be available on the New Hampshire Healthcare Exchange (Affordable Care Act).

Henry Lipman, senior vice-president of financial strategies and external relations at LRGHealthcare said yesterday that the partners in the Granite Healthcare Network and Tufts Health Plan are pursuing, "a shared vision to provide the highest quality of care at the most affordable costs" while seeking to sustain locally managed health care systems.

In a prepared statement Brian Wells, president of the Health Freedom Plan, said that the plan, "represents a fresh approach to health care coverage and we're very excited to be able to provide new options to the New Hampshire market. The plan," he continued, "has a diverse product offering, all designed to provide exceptional care management and an outstanding member experience while lowering the cost of providing health care."

The Tufts Freedom Plan is being offered through insurance brokerages with coverage slated to begin on January 1, 2016. At the same time, the approximately 15,000 employees, spouses and dependents of the five members of the Granite Healthcare Network, including some 2,300 at LRGHeathcare, are being enrolled in the plan.

Voters arriving at Nov. 3 polls without photo ID will need to have picture taken on the spot

LACONIA — City Clerk Mary Reynolds yesterday reminded voters intending to cast ballots in next Tuesday's municipal election that if they arrive at the polls without valid photographic identification, in order to vote they must agree to be photographed by election officials.

Reynolds explained that voters without photographic identification may cast a ballot by completing a "challenged voter affidavit", or statement affirming they are who they who they claim to be. In addition, they must be photographed. The photograph will be attached to the affidavit, which will be retained with the voting materials from the election and made available to New Hampshire Secretary of State for follow up. Each person who completes a challenged voter affidavit will be required to confirm they voted in the election within 90 days of receiving a notice from the Secretary of States or an investigation will be conducted by the New Hampshire Department of Justice.

Voters objecting to being photographed because of their religious beliefs may attach an affidavit of religious exemption to their challenged voter affidavit.

The valid forms of photographic identification are a driver's license issued by any state; an identification card issued by the division of motor vehicles or other agency of any state; a United States armed services identification card; and a valid student identification card.

If you have any questions about the new voter identification law or about casting your vote in the city please contact the City Clerk at 527-1265.

Ida Schwartz survived pinch on Spanish Stepsto reach 100 years of age

LACONIA — "It wasn't chance," said Ida Schwartz, who celebrated her 100th birthday this week at the Taylor Community. "I was lucky."

Schwartz was born in New York on October 22, 2015, one of two children of Sam and Sarah Dolitsky. the family moved to Holyoke, Mass. where her father owned and operated Dolitsky's Department Store. At the age of nine Schwartz began working in the store, first behind the counter as a saleswoman and ultimately as the buyer, who traveled to New York chose the clothes that filled the hangers and stocked the shelves.

At 23 Schwartz went out on her very first date with Albert Schwartz of Springfield, Mass. and was surprised when he asked her to marry him. The couple raised a son and daughter, Steve and Ricki, and her family has grown to include four grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Earning a prosperous $40 a week, Albert Schwartz did not want his wife to work. She gave up her job at the department store and turned her energies to helping others. During World War II she visited with, read to and wrote to hospitalized soldiers as they recovered from their wounds. She tested young children for amblyopia, a major cause of loss of vision. She raised money for charities, visited nursing homes and managed a job training program.

The Schwartzes enjoyed traveling both at home and abroad and she takes pride as the only woman in her family to be pinched on the Spanish Steps in Rome as well as to stroke a hole-in-one.

Mayor Ed Engler offered Schwartz the congratulations of the city, proclaiming the day in her honor. Governor Maggie Hassan sent her best wishes. And Bob Selig, the chief executive officer of the Taylor Community, read a message from President Obama and his wife Michelle.

"This is a wonderful, wonderful thing," Schwartz said