To The Daily Sun,
We in the legislature have been grappling with how to expand health care coverage to low income adults and families during the past year. The bipartisan committee studying the expansion of Medicaid issued its compromise plan a month ago. Governor Hassan and House members worked to make this plan better, and I will be voting to support this plan on Thursday when the House and Senate meet.
The House plan, SSHB-1, will extend health insurance to nearly 60,000 low-income, working Granite Staters without increasing any taxes. It takes full advantage of 100 percent federal funding of Medicaid expansion for three years.
SSHB-1, the House plan will implement The Health Insurance Premium Program (HIPP). Newly-eligible adults with access to employer-sponsored insurance that is cost-effective will keep that insurance. The Department of Health and Human Services will pay the employee's share of this insurance with funds allocated in the Affordable Care Act. The bill requires that this program, HIPP, apply for and obtain a waiver by January 1, 2014 or as soon as possible to ensure coverage for these folks. The Senate plan similarly utilizes HIPP. However, the Senate plan terminates December 31, 2016.
In the House plan, any adult ineligible for the above HIPP, (they have no employer or their employer does not offer adequate health insurance) will select coverage from one of the private managed care organizations (MCO) which have already been contracted to provide benefits under NH's Medicaid program. MCOs will ensure that each enrollee has access to a primary care provider and be linked to a medical home within 60 days of enrollment.
Under House bill, SSHB-1, beginning in January 2017, newly-eligible adults with incomes between 100-138 percent of the federal poverty line, will be required to enroll in the Health Care Marketplace to receive health insurance benefits. Federal funds outlined in the Affordable Care Act will provide premium assistance necessary to purchase these plans.
Lastly, if the federal assistance for the programs outlined above drops below the levels outlined in the Affordable Care Act, the House plan would terminate the program within six months.
The Senate plan for Medicaid expansion requires more complex waivers from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and creates a commission to write the waivers. These waivers are not required to be submitted by the state Department of Human Services until May of 2014. Without these waivers, N.H. will be ineligible for the first year of 100 percent federal funding. The Senate plan repeals Medicaid Expansion fully in December 2016.
When 60,000 plus New Hampshire citizens are uninsured or underinsured, we all pay the price. This is paid in the increasing cost of health care and in rising health insurance premiums paid by those of us with insurance. The Senate plan with its waivers will postpone implementation of Medicaid expansion and then be repealed in three years. It is an unworkable plan — one that I cannot support. I urge you to contact your state senator today, and ask them to compromise with the governor and House to bring together a New Hampshire solution to a challenge that affects us all.
Rep. Suzanne Smith
Last Updated on Tuesday, 19 November 2013 10:36
To The Daily Sun,
We have heard from all the special interests. It's unanimous, the organizations that would receive more of the money that hardworking Americans pay in taxes want Medicaid expansion. Is that a legitimate reason for Medicaid expansion? No.
If someone doesn't have health insurance, is that a reason why taxpayers should have to pay for that person's insurance? No. However, we do provide Medicaid for certain poor people, children, disabled, blind, pregnant women, and low income families.
One question is, what percent of the population should be considered "poor" enough to burden taxpayers? 5 percent? (One in twenty) 10 percent? (One in ten) 33 1/3 percent? (One in three)
More than one out of every 10 New Hampshire residents is already covered by Medicaid. With Medicaid expansion, about one of every seven N.H. residents would be covered... that seems excessive.
A better question is, why add more people to Medicaid when Obamacare subsidizes low income people who buy their own insurance? Private insurance is more widely accepted than Medicaid and patients get better medical results.
The best question is why are we talking about Medicaid expansion when we should be talking about JOBS?
Obamacare, Medicaid expansion, extended unemployment benefits, expanded food stamps, and many other programs are just band aids. They are attempts to cover up the fact that Democrat policies kill jobs, kill opportunities, kill hope, and build dependency on government ... as they have been doing for decades.
Instead of discussing Medicaid expansion, our politicians should be focusing on ending job killing government regulations, eliminating the excess taxes that make businesses invest elsewhere, and implementing policies that reward creating good jobs that would allow Americans to buy the things they need, including health insurance, and want, including a secure and comfortable future.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 19 November 2013 10:29
To The Daily Sun,
An open letter to District 2 Senator Jeanie Forrester:
I am writing this in response to your column in The Laconia Daily Sun this past Saturday, November 16, stating that "You are not going to vote in favor of Medicaid expansion" for 58,000 of our neediest and most vulnerable residents. Have you talked to any of your constituents that are actually receiving Medicaid and those that could if you would vote to give them the chance that most of us who can afford health care get? If you did, I think you will find that many of them are the same rock solid N.H. taxpayers you say you are protecting from expanding Medicaid.
Every day in N.H., indeed, all across the United States, new cases arise that some one's family member will need the services of Medicaid be it because of job loss, a catastrophic illness like cancer or Parkinson's disease, brain damage from a heart attack or stroke, possibly paralyzed. In many of these situations, the family members are not equipped to take on their loved ones care be it financial, or the medical know how required to help them, or the time and yes the patience to take on such a life changing event.
For some of those that those that get the care they need, they will again become contributing members of society and for the rest it insures that they will be cared for as long as need be.
By accepting Medicaid expansion, which falls under the Affordable Care Act, it gives all the states the opportunity to take care of those without health insurance and it does not cost us or the state a single penny for the first three years. N.H. can opt out at the end of three years. Or, low and behold, we have a healthier society because folks are getting the preventive care they need and the emergency rooms are no longer their first option. After three years we can stay in the program by paying only 10 percent of the costs to our state.
Doesn't this speak to the kind of society we want to be? These folks are our Katrina and Hurricane Sandy victims, except that we let the federal government come to their aid. Let's do the same for our residents that live day-to-day with medical challenges that most of us don't have to worry about.
In reading a book I just bought called: "The Bully Pulpit, Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft and the Golden Age of Journalism", there is a sentence in there in respect to a different matter but I find it very fitting to this topic. It was said by Teddy Roosevelt about President McKinley's delay in making the decision to go to war. Teddy said to his bother-in-law, "I am more grieved and indignant than I can say at there being any delay on our part in a matter like this. A great crisis is upon us, and if we do not rise level to it, we shall have spotted the pages of our history with a dark blot of shame."
I agree with the above statement by Roosevelt; let's be proud that we are there for them when they need it the most.
Give it a try for the three years it will not cost N.H. any money at all.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 19 November 2013 10:27
To The Daily Sun,
The annual observance of National Education Support Professionals (ESP) Day is on November 20, during American Education Week. As a paraeducator at Elm St. School, I'm proud to be a member of a team that works together to ensure the success of all our students. I'm equally proud to join in celebrating the invaluable contributions ESPs make to quality public education.
Today, ESPs do more than provide support to children — we help to transform public education one school and one student at a time. In celebration of National Education Support Professionals Day, I invite parents and community members in Laconia to learn more about how ESPs serve as essential partners in making great public schools. We are One Education Workforce Serving the Whole Student.
I encourage parents, students, and community members to take time to thank ESPs and recognize their hard work. ESPs touch the lives of their students and the future of our nation.
Laconia School District
Last Updated on Tuesday, 19 November 2013 10:23
To The Daily Sun,
Members of the Laconia Heritage Commission have had a losing battle trying to encourage the reuse of our significant historic dwellings. We witnessed the loss of the Tilton House, the Putnam House and the Baker House to parking lots. We are struggling to save the Hathaway House. We and others decided a stronger message needed to be presented to Cafua Management Co. LLC, owners of many Dunkin' Donuts stores in our community and the northeast. When they lost their lease across the street and purchased 1106 Union Avenue in Lakeport, including our beloved historic Hathaway House, the community led by the late Wanda Tibbetts, president of the Lakeport Community Association, responded and an agreement was made to restore the Hathaway House, not demolish it. We were all pleased with this decision.
However, it was very short-lived when Cafua submitted plans for not only a new Dunkin' Donuts store but a strip mall requiring the demolition of the Hathaway House. It was obvious that they lied and we had to spring into action again. Fortunately, "Save the Hathaway" supporters were also supported by the Laconia City Council and the Laconia Planning Department and Planning Board.
Again, they promised to restore the building and research was completed to paint it the original colors. They started removing the paint without following environmental guidelines for removal of lead paint. They stopped and left the wood vulnerable to the elements. There is no working electricity or sprinkler system in the building. The building was placed on the market. Some made attempts to inquire about the sale of the property but reached dead-ends. Often the "for sale" sign would be on the ground. This led many to believe that they did not intend to sell the building. We heard it was offered for a practice burn. Recently all of the windows were removed from the first floor and boarded up. Windows on the second floor were broken or left open. This all spells orchestrated deterioration to many. It is at this point that we feel they have no intent to sell but are planning to seek demolition through the Laconia Heritage Commission. Now they are saying they don't own the Hathaway House, that Laconia Real Estate Co. LLC does, but Cafua (Dunkin' Donuts franchiser) is listed as the agent.
We know there are many who support efforts to save the Hathaway House because you have spoken to us "over the fence". We decided our strong message must be witnessed by more and so we picketed Dunkin' Donuts last weekend. You gave use thumbs up, you tooted your horns, you responded on Facebook and you signed our petitions.
Please, go one step further and join us picketing to "Save the Hathaway" in front of Dunkin' Donuts at 1106 Union Avenue, Lakeport on Saturday and/or Sunday, November 23 and 24, 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. Stop in Laconia Antiques on Main Street to sign our petition.
Laconia Heritage Commission
Last Updated on Tuesday, 19 November 2013 10:04