Todd Bookman

Reporter

Todd started as a news correspondent with NHPR in 2009. He spent nearly a decade in the non-profit world, working with international development agencies and anti-poverty groups. He holds a master’s degree in public administration from Columbia University.

Ways to Connect

Todd Bookman/NHPR

The adoptive parents of two children who were sexually abused are suing the Division of Children, Youth, and Families, arguing the state agency didn’t do enough to protect the victims even after social workers became involved.

The lawsuit also names Easter Seals New Hampshire, a non-profit contracted to provide supervision during parental visits.

New Hampshire’s job market continues to show signs of strength.

The state added 620 jobs last month, pushing the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate down a tenth of a point to 2.9 percent. Since the start of the year, gains have been made across most sectors of the economy, from leisure and hospitality to education and manufacturing.

Todd Bookman/NHPR

After a surprise strong showing in last month’s GOP gubernatorial primary, Frank Edelblut is back on the campaign trail, backing his former rival Chris Sununu.

And while he’s not commenting on his political ambitions, the move suggests Edelblut could have more elections in his future.

Todd Bookman

Here's a classic New Hampshire tale revolving around  neighbors in a small town, poetry, and the town dump's swap shop. Read the story here, which includes full transcripts of Swift's poetry, and listen to the full story through Caitlin and Swift's words below.

Greta Rybus / www.gretarybus.com

In 2004, Derek Janiak was struck by a string of migraines. His energy faded and he began losing weight. Doctors thought it might be cancer.

Further testing showed Janiak had a rare liver disease called Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis (PSC). The prognosis was 10-15 years of slowly worsening health, and then he’d require a transplant.

Derek’s wife, Logan Shannon, works at New Hampshire Public Radio. Over the past year, she and her husband agreed to share their story with NHPR's Health Reporter Todd Bookman.

waltsiegl.com

When Walt Siegl was growing up in Austria, utilitarian motorcycles were a common fixture on the roads. These workaday machines moved passengers from town to town, sharing pavement with cars and bicycles.

Then, he’s 7 or 8 years old and a neighbor—a chimney sweep—rips through the village on something new.

Todd Bookman / NHPR

Governor Hassan has signed legislation designed to strengthen the state’s mental health system, a result of a class-action lawsuit filed in 2012.

The law allocates roughly $11 million through next fiscal year for increased community-based treatment options including supportive housing and crisis response teams. It is the first portion of a $30 million settlement agreement reached in December.

The Disabilities Rights Center and U.S. Department of Justice had sued the state in federal court over its lack of adequate care for people with mental illness.

An unexpected surge in Medicaid enrollments during the past six months is putting pressure on the state’s budget.

Medicaid has seen its enrollment jump by roughly 11,000 people since January 1. State officials attribute this to two main things: under the Affordable Care Act, there’s a streamlined application process, and that increased publicity surrounding the law brought out more applicants.

Health and Human Service Commissioner Nick Toumpas says it’s more than they expected, but that nearly 70% of the new sign-ups are children.

Centers for Disease Control

Officials are confirming the first two local cases of chikungunya, a painful but rarely fatal virus characterized by fever, headache, joint swelling and a rash.

The Department of Health and Human Services says two people from New Hampshire who recently traveled to the Caribbean became infected.

“While this is our first announcement of this virus, unfortunately it probably won’t be the last," says DHHS Public Health Director Dr. José Montero.  

Todd Bookman / NHPR

Enrollment in Medicaid for as many as 50,000 newly eligible residents opens tomorrow, with health benefits slated to start August 15th.

Governor Maggie Hassan held a kick-off event on Monday at the Manchester Community Health Center, where she called the bi-partisan deal to expand the state’s Medicaid program the most significant health care legislation in decades.

N.H. Insurance Department

Consumers will have more than 50 plans to choose from next year on the Affordable Care Act health exchange, according to the New Hampshire Insurance Department.

During the first of two public hearings, department officials on Tuesday said five insurance companies will compete in the marketplace in 2015.

Anthem was the only participant this year, and it’s decision to include just 16 of the state’s 26 hospitals in its network sparked frustration even among supporters of the health law.

New Hampshire’s Medicaid expansion program finally has a launch date. Coverage for an estimated 50,000 low-income recipients will start August 15, with an enrollment period beginning July 1.

“The bipartisan New Hampshire Health Protection Program is a historic step forward for the health and economic well-being of New Hampshire families, businesses and communities,” writes Governor Maggie Hassan in a statement announcing the new timeline.

Residents earning up to 138% of the federal poverty level, or about $16,000 a year, are eligible for the program.

Austin Cowan / NHPR

U.S. Senate candidate Bob Smith filed his official election paperwork in Concord on Friday, and also picked up the endorsement of fellow Republican Karen Testerman.

Citing concerns over splitting the conservative vote, Testerman, an activist from Franklin, is dropping her bid for the seat held by Jeanne Shaheen.

“This is not about any individual, this is not about any agenda,” Testeran told supporters. “This is about the United States of America.”

In its latest release of statistics aimed at shedding more light on the quality of the nation’s health care system, the Obama Administration targets the use of physical restraints on psychiatric patients.

It collected data from more than 1,500 facilities nationally. The results show Frisbie Memorial Hospital in Rochester with the fifth highest rate of restraint use in the country.

Jo Naylor via Flickr CC

This week All Things Considered has been looking back at some of the major legislative debates this session at the New Hampshire statehouse. 

The Medicaid Enhancement Tax usually flies under the radar in New Hampshire: it’s complicated, boring on the surface and, as far as taxes go, pretty narrowly applied.

But the MET, as it's called, has major implications for the state budget and the state’s 26 hospitals. And debate over how to fix the MET gained plenty of attention this year, becoming one of the biggest policy issues lawmakers took on in 2014. 

Via Meridien's NH website

One of three private companies brought in to manage administration and benefits within the state’s Medicaid program is ending its agreement. The Department of Health and Human Services announced Tuesday Meridian Health Plan will withdraw at the end of July.

“This has not been an easy decision,” says Dr. David Cotton, CEO of Detroit-based Meridian, “but  our  recent growth in the Midwest demands that we refocus our resources to continue to provide top-quality managed care products in our core  markets.” 

healthcare.gov

  Two more insurance companies say they plan to sell policies in New Hampshire’s health exchange in 2015, bringing the total to five carriers. The suddenly crowded field is a sharp contrast to this year, when only Anthem is offering policies through healthcare.gov.

Harvard Pilgrim and Minuteman Health, both based in Massachusetts, announced their intentions to join the exchange earlier this year, and now the New Hampshire Insurance Department says Assurant Health and Maine Community Health Options have also submitted plans for regulatory review.

Todd Bookman / NHPR

Casinos are shaping up to be a key issue in the 2nd Congressional District’s Republican primary.

At competing events Monday, several state representatives from Salem who back expanded gaming publicly endorsed GOP candidate Gary Lambert.

Meanwhile in Concord, anti-casino activists defended fellow Salem Representative Marilinda Garcia’s vote against a plan to legalize two casinos, despite overwhelming public support in her district.

Todd Bookman / NHPR

The first public meeting between House and Senate negotiators working to fix the state’s Medicaid enhancement tax lasted all of 20 minutes, but parties are optimistic a deal can be struck.

Representative Cindy Rosenwald, a Nashua Democrat, used the hearing to reiterate the House’s position that despite court rulings declaring the tax unlawful, the New Hampshire Supreme Court will see otherwise.

“We continue to believe that our Medicaid enhancement tax is constitutional,” Rosenwald told colleagues. She says it adheres to both federal and state law.

Josh Rogers / NHPR

There was a time not all that long ago when politicians in New Hampshire had no trouble turning away federal money tied to the Affordable Care Act.

In March of 2011, the Republican-controlled Executive Council rejected a planning grant to explore creation of a state-run health care exchange.

At the time, Republican Chris Sununu said federal money for implementing so-called Obamacare was “like crack to the states.”

Rosie O'Beirn via Flickr CC

Governor Hassan is creating a task force to study ways to improve the state’s workers’ compensation system.

The move comes on the heels of a new report that finds worker compensation costs in New Hampshire are well above regional and national averages.

Governor Hassan is requesting a federal disaster declaration following mid-April flooding in Carroll and Coos Counties.

NHPR Staff

  The Executive Director of the New Hampshire Republican Party answered questions in New Jersey on Tuesday regarding his role in the George Washington Bridge scandal involving Governor Chris Christie.

Matt Mowers testified before a special committee investigating whether lane closures on the bridge last September were an act of political retribution after the mayor of Fort Lee Mark Sokolich, a Democrat, declined to endorse Christie.

Mowers was a Christie campaign staffer at the time. He denies any involvement.

Todd Bookman / NHPR

At his latest campaign stop, U.S. Senate hopeful Scott Brown aimed to win over female voters.

The former Massachusetts Senator rolled out his ‘Women for Brown’ leadership team at an event inside his Manchester headquarters. Maureen Mooney, a former New Hampshire State Representative, is one of three co-chairs. She argues Brown is listening to his constituents, and will be an independent voice in Washington.

“Now on the other hand, our current senator, Shaheen, how can she possibly win? She voted for Obamacare,” says Mooney.

Todd Bookman / NHPR

Politicians in New Hampshire have done plenty of arguing over the Affordable Care Act. Today, lawyers were given a turn.

A long-awaited hearing was held at the state Insurance Department. At issue is a complaint filed by an East Rochester woman over alleged harm suffered at the hands of Anthem’s limited network of hospitals.

Margaret McCarthy was a bookkeeper and office manager, but now, in her early 60s, she’s content volunteering as treasurer of her church.

Sara Plourde

 In the pitched political battle over the Affordable Care Act, Republicans and Democrats seem to have found common ground on one issue: Anthem’s so-called narrow network of providers.

From GOP Senate candidate Scott Brown to Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, a wide array of voices have complained that Anthem’s decision to exclude 10 hospitals from its plans sold through the new federal health exchange harms patients.

On Wednesday, one of those patients, an East Rochester woman named Margaret McCarthy, will get a long-awaited hearing on the matter at the state Insurance Department.

Nearly 90% of the people who signed up for health care through the Affordable Care Act in New Hampshire have paid their first month’s bill.

Anthem, the only insurance company in the exchange this year, says roughly 35,000 out of the 40,000 who enrolled through healthcare.gov are paid up.

That's a higher percent than estimates put out by Republican members of the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee. Their report released April 30th stated that just 67% of enrollees nationally had paid their first month’s premium.

via RI.gov

New Englanders are a frugal bunch, so they may want to take note that when it comes to the Affordable Care Act, healthcare.gov was more efficient than the state-run exchanges.

A new report out from a former Obama Administration official finds that the cost-per-enrollee was lower in federally-run exchanges than in state-run exchanges.

To / NHPR

Investigators say a chemical reaction is to blame for a February 10th explosion at a factory in Peterborough that injured 22 people, including 2 critically.

In a letter to employees, New Hampshire Ball Bearing President Gary Yomantas says nitric acid transferred into a 55-gallon drum containing a mixture of chemical waste sparked the blast. 

Todd Bookman / NHPR

A recent ruling declaring a state tax on hospitals unconstitutional is leaving lawmakers scrambling for a fix. On Tuesday, three amendments were put forward, each offering a different path.

Representatives Cindy Rosenwald (D-Nashua) and Neal Kurk (R-Weare) are co-sponsoring a plan that changes technical language within the Medicaid Enhancement Tax and designates that none of the revenue be allocated to the state's general fund.

“We need to rethink the nature of the MET, the purpose and the partnership,” said Rosenwald.

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