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Expanding Medicaid will stabilize N.H mental health system

To the editor,
Expanding Medicaid in 2014 is still being debated across the nation this year as state legislatures work toward adjournment. While the Affordable Care Act passed by Congress in 2010 — the ACA, or "Obamacare" — required expansion of Medicaid, the 2012 Supreme Court decision upholding the law made what was mandatory, optional: states can now choose whether or not to participate in Medicaid expansion. In New Hampshire, that decision is currently before the 24-member State Senate, which is scheduled to vote on its version of the two-year state operating budget on June 6th.
Even though the federal government will pay states 100 percent of the costs of Medicaid from 2014 until 2016, and 90 percent until 2020, some have chosen not to participate: as of last week, 28 states had opted for expansion of Medicaid, others have opted out, and some, like New Hampshire, are still undecided. Both Democratic and Republican governors, including some of the country's most conservative, support expansion; Governor Maggie Hassan's budget, passed by the N.H. House of Representatives, includes it.
The N.H. Community Behavioral Health Association, representing the state's 10 community mental health centers, has joined with other health care providers, consumers, advocates, and businesses to urge the Senate to pass a budget that includes expansion of Medicaid. Our centers have testified before the Senate Finance Committee to that effect, and our association issued a position paper last month (available at http://www.nhcbha.org/) that outlines the primary reasons for our support as:
It will improve access to mental health care;
It will help address issues of parity in coverage;
It will help stabilize the community-based mental health delivery system in New Hampshire;
It will help address cost-shifting to other payers;
There are additional reasons that others have explained more convincingly than we are prepared to. These include: expanding Medicaid will help the state's economy by creating jobs, and because a healthy workforce is good for business. It will help New Hampshire's housing and retail markets because when people have health coverage, they can afford to buy food, clothing, and other essentials, and they can pay their rent. It will help cut state and county corrections systems' costs by providing coverage to current and former prison inmates, thereby lowering recidivism rates and decreasing incarceration. It will help hospitals, community health centers, and the community mental health centers with the huge burden of uncompensated care.
The NHCBHA's primary focus this year has been to advocate for funding the state's Ten-Year Mental Health Plan, which will start to restore the community mental health system. Turning the near-collapse of the system around won't happen in one state budget cycle, but funding the Ten-Year Plan at the level proposed by the governor and passed by the House will begin to rebuild the system. We are grateful to the governor and the House, and are hopeful that the Senate will support funding mental health services at the same level.
Press reports about adults and children waiting in hospital emergency rooms for psychiatric care, sometimes for days at a time, brought public and political awareness of the crisis in mental health to the forefront in New Hampshire this year. There were 50 adults and children waiting in ERs across the state on a single day recently, and just last week, there were five people waiting in ERs on a single day in Genesis Behavioral Health's catchment area alone. The tragedy is that when they did receive care, it was probably not what they needed. Added to that is the potential tragedy that takes place every day when patients, families, and hospital staff are literally put in physical danger because hospital emergency departments are not equipped to provide either appropriate psychiatric care or adequate security.
We wish there was a picture of the uninsured in New Hampshire as clear and compelling as the one of the mental health crisis in our hospital ERs. A large part of our adult impoverished population receives no access to primary health care, oral health care, or mental health care, and they also wind up in hospital emergency rooms. These are the people who are waiting on you at the coffee shop, grocery store, or barber shop, who are mowing your lawn or rotating your tires, who have no other place to go when they are in pain from a toothache, the flu, or in a mental health crisis. Medicaid expansion will help ease that pain and for that reason more than any other, it is the right thing for New Hampshire to do. NHCBHA urges the Senate to pass a state budget that includes our state in Medicaid expansion.
Maggie Pritchard
Executive Director
Genesis Behavioral Health
Laconia

Last Updated on Friday, 31 May 2013 09:49

Hits: 395

Please help with the buying of AC units for needy Tilton seniors

To the editor,
Just about four years ago, we started a program with the Tilton seniors to get them the necessary air conditioning for their apartments. As you might remember, the New Franklin Apartments are limited to what they can have for units and are forced to use the floor model air conditioning because of an egress issue with the Fire Department. We were so blessed when the community and Lowe's rallied together and purchased several units to help keep our seniors cool during the summer. This year we find we have more requests than air conditioners and need your help. We could use two or three more air conditioners at a cost of about $290 each. We install them into their homes and then pick them up in September and stored them at Town Hall. We only install air conditioning to those that have letters of necessity from their doctors.
If you feel you could help us out, you can send whatever you can to Town of Tilton and put a note on it for Senior Air Conditioning or you can call me at 387-5711 and I will come pick up your donation.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Pat Consentino, Selectman
Town of Tilton

Last Updated on Friday, 31 May 2013 09:43

Hits: 332

God is still in control & we'll have to wait to see how it plays out

To the editor,
To L.J. Siden and Henry Osmer:
I will not carry on anymore discussion regarding our present government.
I am a simple person, not pursuing intellectual acumen as is obvious you both have. I do respect your point of view and would never undermine or discredit you, your intellect or person. I tend to have just plain common sense. Street sense if you will. I do respect your liberal point of view. I've heard them all before. What a wonderful country we are fortunate to be born in, the United States of America where we do have the liberties to express opposite points of view. Hopefully our freedoms to do so will continue. Freedom is what we have and what we pursue for others.
I once heard an interview on TV quite a few years ago in which Dwight Eisenhower's grandson, the interviewee, discusses the two points of view then, as is presently. I will never forget what the grandson said, and I paraphrase; Argument and discussion regarding our differences will never win the day. Events that happen to us always do.
I agree with you Mr. Siden, "we will survive this administration and the administrations to follow". Truth will prevail and the two parties will contribute to it. God is still in control. And we will wait to see how the events unroll. That will be the convincing solution to our dialogue. May God bless you both and the USA.
Florence Shealy
Laconia

Last Updated on Friday, 31 May 2013 09:40

Hits: 369

Senator Forrester: Live Free Or Die shouldn't be death sentence

To the editor,
My Senate District 2 Senator Jeanie Forrester is holding back on doing the right thing for her constituents — two instances. She is among those who refuse to consider House-passed resolutions, especially crucial in this time-frame: HCR-2. The Citizens United decision by our U.S. Supreme Court in early 2010, allowing corporations to be "people" with constitutional rights (spending big money in our elections is "free speech" in this case), must be fixed. The only solution now is a constitutional amendment, the topic in HCR-2. The N.H. Senate must either consider HCR-2 or individually sign the letter to our congressional delegation, same subject. Next year is a congressional election year, including a U.S. Senate seat for us. Please, Senator Forrester, no more unlimited bombing of our TV and air waves, dismal mail in our boxes. Confusion and near-slander result. Sign the letter or let HCR-2 get N.H. Senate consideration.
As for accepting the federal government's expanded Medicaid funds — do it, Senator Forrester. 58,000 more of New Hampshire's poorest would reap the benefits of health care coverage, $2.5 billion over the next seven years. People with good income and health coverage are knocked low by illness or injury. Harder still is this on those with $15,000 per year or less income, who put off care until the situation is dire. Live free or die shouldn't be the death sentence that it is when you, Senator Forrester, sit with the forces that stop Medicaid expansion.
Lynn Rudmin Chong
Sanbornton

Last Updated on Friday, 31 May 2013 09:37

Hits: 415

9th Annual Celebrity Waiter Dinner for Opera House a success

To the editor,
The 9th Annual Celebrity Waiter Dinner to benefit Franklin Opera House was a great success. Well over 100 people attended the catered event, held at Mojalaki Country Club in Franklin and were treated to great food and wine, entertainment, a silent auction and a live auction as well.
Celebrity waiters included Franklin Mayor Ken Merrifield, former Mayor Tony Giunta, Tilton Police Chief Robert Cormier, radio personality Heather Bishop, State Representative Leigh Webb, who also served as auctioneer, and State Senator Andrew Hosmer, whose firm, AutoServ of Tilton sponsored the event, as well as others too numerous to mention.
Our sincere thanks to the good folks at AutoServ. Without the generous support of local businesses such as AutoServ the Opera House could not succeed.
All of the proceeds from the evening go to support the ongoing mission of Franklin Opera House, which is to provide the finest live entertainment in the Lakes Region.
The Franklin Opera House is a non-profit, 501 (c) 3 organization located in the City Hall building in downtown Franklin. The web address is: franklinoperahouse.org.
Jim Barnes
Marketing Director
Franklin Opera House



Last Updated on Friday, 31 May 2013 09:34

Hits: 398

 
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