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Sen. Forrester's support for nursing home residents is nothing new

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.

Roxie Severance
Chairperson of the Board

New Hampshire Health Care Association

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Throwing $42M at drug & alcohol programs in N.H. won't work

To The Daily Sun,

So let's talk about the parts of the state budget that get no air.

When it came time to put together her budget, the governor had granted the Department of Fish & Game (dept of bait, hunting and fishing ) 1.5 million bucks from the general fund, allowed the department to raid dedicated funds within the department, i.e.: wildlife and fisheries restoration funds and the boat ramp funds. All of this to offset the shortfall in the department as if there ever was a shortfall. The House Finance Committee gave the department $600,000 to be used for search and rescue overtime — $300,000 per year for the next two years — and that's it.

Then came the Senate Finance Committee to put in what is most important to them, retaining voters' votes. The Hunting and Fishing members only club (F&G) walked in, sat down and with an air of arrogance, proceeded to ask for the Senate to restore the $1.5 million to the department so they could give all of the 191 state workers in that department a pay-and-benefits raise.

What happened to the shortfall? The lamp was rubbed and the "Genie" in the bottle granted the the department $1.2 million to spend on pay increases or whatever the department wants to do with the dough. This money is not "earmarked"." Hats off to the Senate Finance Committee. You fell under the spell of funding a department that you know little to nothing about. What was the promised price, 200,000 votes? What is your voter base? Last year the Senate gave that dept $750,000. Now the Senate wants to grant them their wish for more pay and bennies.

Wake up. This will not be a one-time deal, for you see. Two years from now we will shell out another $1.2 million to keep up with the new pay scale, and the biennial after that, and after that, and after that, and.....

Strange how all of our state employees aren't getting pay raises, just the chosen few.

The next item on the agenda would have to be the $48 million that Maggie wanted to put into the drug and alcohol programs. The House Finance Committee dropped the number down to $28 million, then came Senate Finance who brought the number back up to $42 million. I do not remember asking any of the candidates who ran for office to throw this or any kind of monies into these programs that do not work — never did and never will. This kind of bleeding-heart spending of taxpayer money has been going on, like, forever. It's a campaign bid for re-election to fight the war on stupid, and I don't care how much money you throw at it, you can't fix stupid.

If you want to kill yourself with harmful drugs and drown yourself in the bottom of a bottle then knock yourself out. Why should the taxpayer be held responsible for your stupidity? By the way, they hide information on harmful drugs and the everlasting effects of booze in books.

Everyone who thinks that throwing 42 million bucks into drug and alcohol programs will solve the problems, please raise your hands. How much will be enough — $50, $75, $100 million? I'm 57 years old and have been hearing from every politician who ever came down the pike of how they were going to fight the war on drugs and all the billions, we in this country have spent, over all of those years, and all that has come of it is more and more jobs for enforcement and administration, but after all, that is where all the votes come from, isn't it. Rest assured that two years from now, when the next budget is formulated, there will be millions upon millions more needed for these programs that don't work.

When I voted last year for the Red, Right, Republicans I was expecting less government and less spending. Increase in state employee pay increases the state retirement requirements that taxpayers pick up the tab on. Increasing programs that don't work result in more administrative requirements, in other words more state employees.What happened to the less government/less spending? I could have voted for the Blue Democrats, at least I know what to expect from them, the same results.

In 2016 I think I'll just skip the voting for state reps and senators. and just vote for the presidential race, and I'll play the "Trump" card, at least the "Donald" will not be manipulated by the mainstream political team.

Eric T. Rottenecker
Bristol

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