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Benefits to victims of life-threatening diseases should be expedited

To The Daily Sun,

It is a fact that the state Department of Health and Human Services is overworked and understaffed. They are given an impossible — at times — task of trying to do the right thing for everyone, from food stamps to those who so desperately need them, to Medicaid also for those who so desperately need it. Unfortunately, many have frivolously taken advantage of both of these needs, and those of us who are in dire need now have to be vetted down to our fillings in our teeth and even then it takes more time after that for approval.

I have recently been diagnosed with ALS — a blow to be sure — I have had to give up my job, driving, and freedom of just being able to take my trash out without the help of friends,

I live now on my Social Security and that's it. Each month, after I pay my bills, I am $69 in the hole. This obviously leaves no money for groceries. Thank God for my friends. I don't have any prescription insurance. I don't have any long-term nursing home care insurance, and it's a given that soon I will not be able to live alone any longer. I need to be secure in the knowledge that I don't have to worry from Day 1.

The state takes way too long to "sign you up." It's been five weeks now since all this happened. Since then I have not had a real shower. The VNA considers me not eligible for their services. Why? Because of the wording of Medicare, that I am not "homebound" because I go out to physical therapy, and go do what shopping I can when someone comes over to take me out.

I cannot get any meds, should I need them, or prescription enhancements for the shower, or toilet, because I am not on Medicaid. I also, God forbid, cannot get any coverage should I end up in a nursing home.

I was told yesterday, finally, that food stamps are approved, but now the battle for Medicaid begins. I was in tears to find out that it could another few months perhaps to be qualified.

This leads me to the point of this letter.

I think there needs to be new regulations in place that expedite the benefits of a person with life-threatening diseases, or for that matter any debilitating disease, and these applications should supersede those who are applying due to unemployment, and truly that is not meant as a dig, just a comparison.

The DHHS should have new regulations stating that they move "us" up the ladder, submit our paperwork to medical as soon as they get the notification and records from our PCPs or specialists, and then the in-home assessment as soon as possible after the medical review. Hopefully this would make it easier on everyone concerned. The anxiety, depression and feeling of uselessness of a person with these diseases is horrific at best and being secure in the knowledge that help is coming fast relieves so much of that feeling.

If anyone out there reading this, knows someone who knows someone that can maybe intervene and get change started, I thank you for any effort.

Judi Leavitt
Laconia

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Let me explain difference between charities & service providers

To The Daily Sun,

I am writing to address the recurring issue of local taxpayer money used to support "outside agencies." As Mr. Leandro stated in his letter of Jan. 25, town officials often do not feel taxpayer money should fund "charities." I would like to explain there is a difference between "charities" and "service providers."
Charities such as national organizations for various health organizations like the American Cancer Society, American Red Cross, Muscular Dystrophy Association and numerous other "charities" raise funds through varied solicitation methods that can be used for research as well as operations. It very well could be that local residents could receive some sort of assistance from these national organizations.

"Service providers" on the other hand are local organizations that provide various forms of direct support to local residents. In the case of my agency, Belknap-Merrimack Community Action Agency, our programs provide local residents assistance with basic life needs such as fuel, food, electricity and housing which the town, by law, is required to provide using local tax dollars. BMCAP accesses local, state and federal resources to provide these basic needs to residents, thereby saving tax dollars.

In the example Mr. Leandro uses about the house next to Mrs. Cooper being in desperate need of repair, the work being done then the bill sent to Mrs. Cooper. If that homeowner were referred to BMCAP, we would use other resources to repair and weatherize that home and return it to the tax rolls, not costing local taxpayers precious tax dollars. That is why a "service provider" actually saves taxpayer money. The funds we request to maintain the operation of our area center so there will be staff to provide this kind of assistance to local residence are far outweighed by the value of services provided to town residents.

Last year, Belknap-Merrimack Community Action Agency provided the residents of Gilford with $332,507; Laconia with $970,516, Belmont $447,345, Gilmanton $96,026, Alton $151,259, Barnstead $173,643, Meredith $679,316, Center Harbor $49,787 and New Hampton $169,245 in basic life services that the towns would otherwise have had to provide. This assistance was paid from resources other than local tax dollars. "Charities" have a totally different function in our society.

I respectfully request that each town approve the funding request in their town budgets and/or warrants to support Belknap-Merrimack Community Action Agency and understand the value of services provided to local residents by "service providers" is well worth the investment compared to the amount we request for support of the local area centers.

Judy Scothorne

Community Services Director

Belkanp-Merrimack Community Action Program
Gilford (resident)

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