To The Daily Sun,
In January, Governor Hassan and N.H. DHHS announced that there would be a nursing home funding cut that would take place before June 30, 2015, in order that the nursing home money could be spent on other budgetary purposes. I am happy to report that, thanks to the outstanding work of Senator Jeanie Forrester, this cut did not take place, and nursing home residents who rely on Medicaid received the amount of the funds that the state budget appropriated for their care.
As chair of the New Hampshire Health Care Association Board, and on behalf of people across the state who live and work in nursing homes, I want to say thank you to Senator Forrester for her thoughtful and dedicated work on this issue.
The planned reduction was particularly troubling because it was directly contrary to a provision that the Legislature had put into the budget approved two years ago that expressly required all the money budgeted for nursing home care to be used for nursing home care. So, following the announcement of the intended cut in January, Senator Forrester immediately took the initiative and introduced SB-8, a bill designed to make sure that the Governor and DHHS complied with the budget law.
SB-8 passed the Senate and then, on the day before the full House also voted to pass SB-8, the governor announced via a press release that the money that had been budgeted for nursing home care would actually be used for nursing home care.
I am disappointed that Senator Forrester's work on this issue made her the target of some partisan political attacks. Senator Forrester's support for nursing home residents is nothing new: she has been recognized for it on several occasions, most recently by the Friend of Seniors Award which she received from NHHCA last year — an award, I might add, that she received along with Democrats Rep. Laurie Harding and Senator Peg Gilmour. She also was a recipient (in 2013) of NHHCA's Legislative Service Award, which is named after none other than the great gentleman who held the District 3 Senate seat before her, the late Senator Carl Johnson.
SB-8 was not a Republican vs. Democrat issue, as demonstrated by the fact that SB-8 passed the Senate Finance Committee unanimously, with both Republicans and Democrats voting in favor of the bill. Indeed, one of the members of the Committee who voted in favor of the bill was Democratic Senator Andrew Hosmer of Laconia, who also should be saluted for his support. I hope that we have seen the last of these unfortunate partisan eruptions.
Nursing home residents, family members and staff do not live in a bubble. They know who it is that is supporting them. We thank Senator Forrester and all of her fellow legislators who understand how important it is that we as a state care for those who cared for us.
Further, we thank Senator Forrester and others for recognizing the high quality of care New Hampshire nursing home staff provide matters to residents of nursing homes. People need to know New Hampshire's long-term care continuum is far better than almost all other states.
Chairperson of the Board
New Hampshire Health Care Association
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