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House Finance budget will give mental health system a real boost

The New Hampshire state operating budget bill that has now made it through its first major hurdle — approval from the House Finance Committee — will give the state's mental health system the most meaningful boost it has had in many years. As members of Genesis Behavioral Health's Board of Directors, we want to sincerely thank the members of the Finance Committee for listening to the consumers, families, providers and others who came before you to ask for restoration of our community-based mental health system. The Committee's support for funding the state's Ten-Year Mental Health Plan is a breath of fresh air and cause for great optimism.
We also need to applaud Governor Maggie Hassan for putting mental health front and center in her budget proposal, and for recognizing that this system is a critical part of the safety net for a large part of our population. Others who have helped build the case for moving the Ten-Year Plan forward are: hospitals and emergency room doctors; the police, courts, and state and county corrections systems; substance abuse treatment and prevention programs; healthcare providers; and the voices in the media who have worked to bring the crisis in the mental health system to the public's attention. The work of these groups and individuals has also served to jump-start the next serious conversation we need to have: about the stigma that separates mental illness from other chronic long-term diseases. As has been said before, we don't treat people with cardiac problems or kidney failure the way we treat people in a psychiatric crisis in this state. In addition to correcting disparities in funding, we need to do a better job of educating people with facts about mental illness and thereby eliminate this bias.
But right now there is hope on the horizon and that is because of the budget the Finance Committee is sending to the full House for a vote on April 3rd. The funding for this biennium won't solve all the problems created by years of budget cuts, but it will help the system catch up, by directing resources for:
— A new 10-bed Designated Receiving Facility.
— A new 16-bed Acute Psychiatric Residential Treatment Program, similar to the Cypress Center in Manchester.
— Ten new Assertive Community Treatment Teams, and expansion of ACT team coverage to seven days per week. Four adult teams will be added to the system in 2014, and six children's teams will be added in 2014 and 2015.
— One hundred new slots in the Housing Bridge Subsidy Program – this funding will help keep those discharged from NH Hospital and others from becoming homeless and/or re-admitted to the Hospital until they can qualify for Section 8 housing assistance.
— New community residence beds.
— Expansion of programs for older adults and for Peer Support Services.
— Two additional peer-operated crisis beds with statewide capacity.
These elements of the Ten-Year Mental Health Plan in the House Finance Committee budget are intended to start re-building the community-based system — not add to the population at N.H. Hospital. There is no reason to return to a centralized mental health system in this state, but years of cuts to the community-based system, the loss of psychiatric beds in community hospitals, and the current waitlist for N.H. Hospital, do mean that some new beds are needed right now. The waitlist for N.H. Hospital beds, which puts adults and children in local hospital emergency rooms, was 44 on one day last month, and there is broad consensus that that is unsafe, clinically unacceptable, and just plain wrong.
The damage that has been done to the community-based mental health system didn't occur just as a result of cuts in the last biennial budget. It was years in the making; some was due to rate cuts, and some was because the 2008 recession hit almost immediately after release of the state's Ten-Year Mental Health Plan. The need now is to support this budget's funding of the Ten-Year Mental Health Plan. The House Finance Committee's decision to present their colleagues with a budget that provides a solid foundation for re-building the community-based mental health system is a huge step forward, for individuals and families dealing with mental illness, for communities, for the whole state. We ask that all members of the House support the Finance Committee and vote Yes on the budget on April 3rd.
Trudy Fletcher (Belmont)
Miller Lovett (Meredith)
Carol Pierce (Laconia)
Jennifer Sereni (Sanbornton)
Matthew Soza (Laconia)
Jannine Sutcliffe (Holderness)
Cinde Warmington (Concord)
Board Members of Genesis Behavioral Health

Last Updated on Friday, 29 March 2013 12:35

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Insightful have warned of consequences of socialized medicine

To the editor,
It is actually encouraging as I watch citizens attempt to come to grips with perhaps the most sweeping, social movement and government takeover of our economy and health care, now taking place in this great land of ours. The Obamacare Survival Guide is a best seller. Former N.Y. Lieutenant Governor Betsy McCaughey has a handbook out, "Beating Obamacare". Terry Savage, financial guru, has expressed her apprehension over the potential long term damage that Obamacare may inflict on this country. Dr. Benjamin Carson has recently been quite vocal on the urgency of working quickly to fix the many deficits inherent in this 2,700-page monstrosity. One that a variety of experts are still trying to decipher. Docs 4 Patient Care and AMAC (Association of Mature American Citizens) have been warrior organizations in educating people about the disastrous affects of Obamacare and how best to deal with it.
Betsy uncovered the truth about "death panels", the component that Democrats crucified Sarah Palin for warning us about. The compassionate phrase the left uses for them is "government-encouraged-end-of-life-counseling". By now, we all know that the misnamed "Affordable Care Act" will raise taxes, make it more difficult to obtain insurance and regulate the relationship between patients and their doctors.
While people know that Obamacare includes an expansion of Medicaid, Betsy explains what the complicit media failed to mention. Individuals in the Medicaid system receive horrible care with health outcomes worse than individuals with no insurance at all. She reports that this shocking revelation has been well documented in major, medical journals.
Jonah Goldberg has an observation that should be filed under the heading, "another compassionate liberal policy gone terribly awry". He explains, "it turns out that Obamacare actually makes self-insurance less of a gamble because you can always throw workers on public exchanges without penalty". Yes indeed, gone awry for the citizens of this country. Obamacare, once fully implemented, will be a progressives' dream come true. A quantum leap for soft despotism and a potentially fatal plunge into the enslavement of a free society.
From Alexis de Tocqueville to Mark Steyn, insightful foreigners have warned us of the liberty sucking consequences of socialized medicine. Daren Jonescu, PhD, Canadian philosopher and English teacher, sums it up precisely, I think. "To have lived in a socialized medical system is to have witnessed the heart of the stealthy darkness Tocqueville foresaw. Socialized medicine is the demise of individual liberty in the guise of 'equal access', a gluttonous economic shark masked as 'affordability', and a final denial of the dignity of all human life, euphemized as "universal care". How sad it is that so many folks are caught up in the modern day "bread and circuses" of electronic toys and government freebies, that they have no clue our "benevolent" progressive, political leaders are slowly sucking the very life out of us in their shameless quest for an impossibly, irrational Utopian society.
Russ Wiles

Last Updated on Friday, 29 March 2013 12:30

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N.H. Listens' role is complimentary & not a substitute for government

To the editor,
I have followed the letters to the editor over the winter as a few of your readers have weighed in about our civic engagement work at NH Listens and our local partner, Lakes Region Listens. Until now, we have chosen not to respond to any of these letters. We are more interested in being part of a public dialogue where everyone can speak and be heard equally than rely on the impersonal nature of an opinion column. But I am concerned that your readers might have formed an incorrect view of our work, so I have decided to respond at this time with a few corrections to recent letters printed here from Rosemary Landry of Meredith, Greg Hill of Northfield, and Ken Gorrell of Northfield.
First, NH Listens isn't a corporation, a PR firm, or a corporate front group. If we were, I bet I'd spend less time writing grants and worrying about funding. We are employees of the University of New Hampshire interested in helping communities to come together and discuss in a civil, safe environment the issues that they have identified as important to them.
Second, we are often referred to in these concerned letters as using a "Delphi technique" of facilitation. We weren't sure exactly what that was, so we Googled it. It appears to be a method to communicate information systematically through a panel of experts. That would not be an accurate description of NH Listens or Lakes Region Listens, the group formed by local residents and the Lakes Region United Way to address Lakes Region issues. Our role is to facilitate conversations among attendees and identify common themes that arise in multiple small groups. Facilitated small-group discussion is useful because it allows people to not only voice their opinions and their questions, but to have an exchange of values, beliefs, and ideas with others in the group. This is different from the format used at town meetings or school board meetings where there is usually only one-way communication, often time-limited and rarely interactive. We see our work as complementing, not substituting for, these more official occasions.
I could make this letter longer, but I'm told fewer people would get to the end. So here is what I suggest to your readers. Please come to an event and decide for yourself. We are really proud of our mission, and the feedback we are receiving from participants at these sessions tells us we are doing useful work in communities across the state. There is a Granite State Future conversation at the Laconia Middle School on Tuesday, May 7. A full calendar of NH Listens events and more information about our work and who we are can be found at www.nhlistens.org. If you have questions, call us at 862-0692.
Bruce Mallory
NH Listens

Last Updated on Friday, 29 March 2013 12:25

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Watermark has purchased my family's land along Paugus Bay

To the editor,
Legacy Realty Trust has sold the lakefront property located at 1218 Union Avenue to Watermark, Paul Goodwin, on March 21, 2013.
The property has been in the Rudzinski family for 95 years, with all generations having many fond memories of living on Paugus Bay.
Here is some brief information of the history of the property to help clarify the ownership. The business owners of the Shore Diner and Burger King were never the owners of the lakefront land as it has been thought through the years.
William Rudzinski Sr purchased the 622-feet of lakefront property on Paugus Bay in 1918.
In 1963 the property was divided between two of William and Ludovicki's sons.
The northern parcel of 260-feet was given to John Rudzinski, which included the Laconia Ice Company and the home of his family. John sold his parcel in 1997 to Fitzgerald Motorsport.
The southern parcel of 362-feet was given to their son, William Rudzinski Jr. The northern 112-feet of the parcel was the home of William and his wife Pauline and their five children where they lived from 1946 to 1973.
The remaining parcel of land, 250-feet was leased to various owners of the Shore Diner building from 1935 to 1973.
In 1973 the entire parcel of land, 362-feet, was leased to franchisees of Burger King who demolished the Shore Diner building, moved the family home to Valley Street and erected a new building on the leased land. The lease was in effect for 35 years, until 2008 when they chose not to renew the lease. Per lease agreement, ownership of the building was transferred to the owners of the land.
In 1997 William and Pauline gave the 362-foot parcel to their five children, who established, Legacy Realty Trust.
Watermark leased the 362-foot parcel in 2011 until they purchased it.
We all wish Watermark success in their future endeavors on this beautiful property on Paugus Bay.
Sylvia Batchelder

Last Updated on Friday, 29 March 2013 12:18

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Series of events has seriously affected Belknap County budget

To the editor,
How quickly we forget. For as long as I can remember Belknap County government has been conservatively and prudently managed, sometimes too much so.
Over the past five or six years there have been a series of events that had a significant impact on the county budget requiring significant administrative changes.
1. Several years ago the Nursing Home experienced a devastating federal compliance review. The upshot was a need for more supervisory and administrative support in order to comply with the regulations for care and avoid closure of the facility.
2. In 2008 there was an embezzlement of county funds. Subsequently, the auditors and accountants insisted on significant changes including one for an independent financial manager position.
3. In 2009, in an effort to balance the N.H. state budget, there was a downshift of the cost of long term elderly and disabled persons care under Medicaid in exchange for the state assuming the cost of youth services. In 2011 there was a similar, although smaller, downshift. The current budget proposal holds another almost one million dollar downshift in long term care Medicaid responsibility. This has cost the county up to three million dollars.
4. At one time each county department did their own human resources (hiring and firing). There was inconsistency and some lawsuits. The human resources work was brought into the administration budget.
All of these events affected the budget.
As we all know, the process of governing is complex and fraught with intended and unintended consequences. Not long ago, former Senator Judd Gregg, in a television interview in essence said, "It is important to understand we are a constitutional republic system of government, not a parliamentary system. To make it function properly there has to be fair debate and compromise."
Alida Millham

Last Updated on Friday, 29 March 2013 12:14

Hits: 355

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