FRANKLIN — There was a strong showing of health care groups when District 2 Executive Councilor Andru Volinsky appeared at the Franklin VNA & Hospice’s second Meet Your Representative event on Tuesday.
Among those attending were representatives of HealthFirst, ServiceLink, Community Action Program, and Age At Home.
Volinsky spoke of the Executive Council's duties, performing the “three Cs" — Confirmation of judges and department heads, Contract approvals over $10,000, and Commuting, which deals with the 10-Year Transportation Plan, including assistance to vulnerable populations to see they have access to the transportation programs.
Volinsky began by discussing New Hampshire’s new “Hub-and-Spoke” initiative to help combat the opioid crisis. He said Vermont has had a similar program in place for three years, giving New Hampshire a unique opportunity to learn from what Vermont has done.
In discussing expanded Medicaid, Volinsky said that listening to the providers who directly care for patients was integral to determining that nights and weekend hours would best be added to serve the patients and get them the services they need, as those structures are working during the day.
He described the work requirement to stay on Medicaid as “in some ways ridiculous and self-defeating” because access to Medicaid insurance supports the medical health infrastructure by providing access to preventive services, allowing chronic disease to be managed and helping people avoid the most expensive type of care, that in the emergency room.
He pointed out that, if people are unable to navigate the system to prove they had worked, or otherwise fell out of eligibility for Medicaid, then the more expensive cost from emergency utilization and hospitalization would rise again.
Jim Wells, HealthFirst Family Care FQHC chair, said he was concerned that the Medicaid work requirement would divert some of the fixed amount of money set for Medicaid expansion into a bureaucracy to track the compliance with the work requirement. Volinsky agreed.
Volinsky encouraged involvement, through attending the Executive Council Meetings, and by contacting local state representatives to express concerns or offer ideas of ways to improve the health care system in the state.
Volinsky concluded his visit by accompanying a Franklin VNA & Hospice nurse on a visit to see the changing face of home care, and the challenges and rewards individuals experience by receiving home-health care.
Tabitha Dowd, executive director of the Franklin VNA & Hospice, commented, “In-home care is highly effective and less expensive than in-hospital care. It can detect problems before they become emergencies, and help educate individuals and their families on the importance of caring for their chronic health conditions and avoiding the need for hospital care.”