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Private medical records were neigher sought nor gained by me

To The Laconia Sun,

What a pleasure it is to pick up The Laconia Daily Sun and to watch their intrepid reporter labor over yet another article on the Belknap County Board of Commissioners. The headline reads that I "was called out for accessing medical records," which access was neither sought nor obtained by me. Perhaps the writer of the headline did not read the story.

In the name of "transparency," the board managed to dredge up a 3 1/2-month-old non­-event and make it a cause celebre.

Perhaps in service to that much sought-after transparency, I could have been provided a copy of the agenda in advance of the meeting.

The facts were simple enough, however, so as to not require a lot of research. Simply stated, the facts are as follows:

1. I was not convinced that a lack of electronic medical records was the reason for the decline in reimbursement for nursing home patients whose residency is underwritten by Medicaid.

2. At a meeting with Department of Health and Human Services rate setters, I learned that their definition of acuity is tied not to the level of service required, but to the overall percentage of Medicaid patients in the Nursing Home. That number is somewhat arbitrary since the census is taken on two days of the year and there are stringent rules for the patients so recorded.

3. This census caused the state to record a 10 percent decline in the (local) Medicaid population, a percentage which I do not believe to be accurate.

4. In order to successfully compare patients receiving service through Medicaid to all payers, I needed to know the gross census numbers for Medicaid, Medicare and privately-paid patients.

5. I stated at the time that I did not need and did not want access to anyone's private information but only the raw census numbers. Ultimately, I received and reported on those numbers. The public should know that the county is about $180,000 poorer as a result of this process. Unfortunately, the statement that the numbers were readily available is completely untrue.

Frequency of use has fostered the thought that when Commissioner Taylor uses "quite frankly" as a place holder, he is on the verge of saying something which requires rebuttal and is anything but frank.

As to the tattered second charge, ask yourself why Primex made a settlement with the former nursing home director, a settlement which will not be disclosed but will be reflected in higher rates paid to Primex. Ask yourself also, given the fact that you were a nursing home director unfairly subjected to a hostile workplace, if you would not want a dissenting voice to give a minority report on the validity of your complaint. In giving this minority report, I did not hide the fact that I was so doing.

Mr. DeVoy gave a report for the majority, a report with which I disagreed. I returned serve. This has been reported on before, but The Sun reporter would have you believe that there is smoke and surely a fire as well.

I will continue to represent District 2 to the best of my ability and thank the many people who have supported my efforts.

My fellow commissioners have lost a lot of political capital this year. If this is the best that they can do to try to discredit me and to shore up support for themselves then I would suppose them not very able.

Dick Burchell

Belknap County Commissioner

District 2


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I was flabbergasted to read blast at Lakes Region's small businesses

To The Daily Sun,

It's that time of year again. No, not the long agonizing period of suffering known as "spring" in New Hampshire. It's the annual announcement of the "losses" incurred by the local "not-for-profit" health care monopoly, LRGHealthcare.

With the front page of the Friday Daily Sun sporting a picture of Jules Verne's "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" Nautilus snout (Wait, never mind — that's the main entrance to LRGH that has done so much to make us locals healthier), we read of the financial hole and its causes, as outlined by the ever-so-optimistic financial chief, Henry Lipman, who in closing his laundry list of causes, blame, and denial of any causation on his part as the "senior vice president of financial strategy and external relations," (aka, minister of propaganda and popular enlightenment) announced, "I don't lose sleep." And why should he? Despite rounds of layoffs, years of fiscal crisis, wasted monies and non-mission critical dollar-wasting boondoggles, all taking place under his watchful eye, there he is. As if made of Teflon, not one speck of the hot steaming financial mess has ever stuck to him.

On cue as always, in presenting his report and himself for questioning, he came prepared with the usual list of bogeymen responsible, and defenses against the most obvious causes, hardly even making an effort to hide his blatant biases and partisanship in the process.

Obamacare? No way! "Lipman dismissed suggestions that the Affordable Care Act is responsible for the financial troubles besetting LRGHealthcare." In fact, he claims with a straight face, without its affects on New Hampshire, "we'd actually be worse off." No word yet on whether he's had any takers on that bridge in Brooklyn he's been trying to sell.
Nay, it's not Obamacare that has caused the latest financial stress, it's ... wait for it ... the evil insurance companies. Well, the private ones anyway, what with their plans trying to "offset high premiums with high deductibles and co-pays." Not that this is caused by Obamacare; it's just coincidence that the cost of buying insurance went through the roof with its passage.

Also at fault is the fact that people are growing old. This adds costs as well. Too bad we can't just call in a few "sandmen" from Logan's Run to fix this one.

Rounding out the fiscal enemies of the local non-profit health-care monopoly are all those pesky small businesses — you know, the ones where those of us in the area who do work gain employment. "Lipman noted that in the Lakes Region, with its large number of small businesses, employers tend to provide relatively less generous health insurance plans."

As one of those small business owners, I must say, I was flabbergasted and more than a little angry when I read that one. Our company has struggled for 26 years to provide our employees with the best health care possible. For a while, we had a good thing going. Along came then-state Sen. Shaheen and her New Hampshire Senate Bill 711 that drove most insurers out of the state, thus eliminating choices. No doubt the well-rested Mr. Lipman supported that. Then came bipartisan "reform" eliminating insurance premium reductions for healthy people. Gotta make everyone equal — equally pay, that is.

In the liberal/socialist/communist world of Mr. Lipman, he no doubt welcomed this too as he dozed off into his peaceful nightly slumbers. Then came the war between LRGH and the insurance companies who dared to question some of the exorbitant costs driving LRGH's definition of "health care" (among these the golf cart transport of employees to and from their cars, a cable TV show, etc. etc.). This "charitable" and "caring" non-profit demonstrated how far they were willing to go in defending their practices by denying services to those of us who had these companies as our carriers.

"It was a tough year," notes Lipman. But not to worry because, as quoted in the Sun article, he predicts, "there are lots of opportunities." Uh-oh! Maybe he'll be sleeping well at night, but I can't help but think that, as a taxpayer, business owner, and otherwise healthy and productive citizen here in the Lakes Region, I am facing even more restless nights than I do now.

I don't believe I would be wrong to predict Mr. Lipman's "opportunity" translates into yet another medical extraction ... from my wallet.

Doug Lambert

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