Health

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A recent federal study found the Northeast, and most of all New Hampshire, had the highest rate of childhood cancers in the country between 2003 and 2014.

Now, the state's congressional delegation wants to know what public health officials are doing to respond. They requested more information on the issue in a letter this week to the federal Department of Health and Human Services.

Courtroom One Gavel
Joe Gratz / Flickr Creative Commons

The juvenile justice system in New Hampshire is built around the idea of rehabilitation. Instead of going to jail, young people who commit crimes gain access to services like counseling and substance abuse treatment to address the underlying causes of their behavior.

But a blind spot in the state’s juvenile justice system can keep some kids from getting the help they need.

Britta Greene / NHPR

New Hampshire health officials decided to prioritize a specific demographic this year when allocating scarce federal funds toward the opioid epidemic: pregnant and newly post-partum women.

The choice reflects stark statistics both in New Hampshire and across the country. 

NHPR Staff

Frisbie Memorial Hospital is closing a recovery center in downtown Rochester.

In a statement, Chief Nursing Officer John Levitow says the decision will eliminate "redundancy of service" and allow the hospital to better target its resources. Rochester is also served by the SOS Recovery Center.

Levitow says the hospital will work to avoid any disruption in care as patients are sent elsewhere for services.

The Frisbie recovery center opened in the fall of 2016 as a partnership between Frisbie and the city to provide 24/7 substance use disorder support and treatment.

Paige Sutherland/NHPR

A group of recovery centers from all across New Hampshire met with top state officials on Wednesday to plead for more funding, saying the state has placed added demand on their organizations without offering any extra financial support. 

AP

New Hampshire saw a 15 percent drop in opioid prescriptions between 2016 and 2017 — the largest drop, in percentage points, of any state in the country — according to a new report from the healthcare research firm IQVIA.

Casey McDermott, NHPR

The Senate Health and Human Services Committee on Tuesday endorsed a proposal meant to protect patients from surprise out-of-network bills at in-network medical facilities — otherwise known as “balance billing.”

But that stamp of approval came only after several last-minute rounds of negotiations to respond to lingering concerns from lobbyists representing the state’s doctors and hospitals.

N.H. Department of Health and Human Services

The scene last June at the offices of the New Hampshire chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness was cautiously optimistic as Gov. Chris Sununu and other leaders gathered to sign into law House Bill 400 — hailed as a major step forward for the state’s mental health system.

via UFL.edu

New Hampshire’s medical marijuana program more than doubled in size last year, and many see it as an alternative to using opioids for pain management.

Dartmouth-Hitchcock Pediatrician Julie Kim wrote an article for the Huffington Post about how she sometimes prefers to recommend medical marijuana to her patients. Morning Edition Host Rick Ganley spoke with her about how medical marijuana has helped her with concerns over prescribing opioids to certain patients.

 A website developed by the New Hampshire Insurance Department has new features aimed at helping consumers make educated choices about health care.

The department's health price transparency website, NHHealthCost.org, allows residents to compare the price of various health care services across doctors, hospitals and outpatient facilities.

pixabay.com

In its first hearing on the proposal, the Senate Finance Committee heard from a bipartisan group of lawmakers, an economist and even a doctor urging them to endorse a paid family and medical leave program.

But they also heard from the Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Employment Security, Richard Lavers, who cautioned that setting up such a program would require a significant time, money and staff resources.

Sara Plourde/NHPR

A plan to extend New Hampshire’s Medicaid expansion another five years cleared a major hurdle in the House of Representatives on Thursday. The House approved the bill by a vote of 222-125, over the objections of some Republicans who argued Medicaid expansion has been a failure and has driven up health insurance costs.

istock photo

The plan to keep New Hampshire’s Medicaid expansion in tact for another five years got its first hearing in the House on Tuesday. Patients, health providers and other supporters spent hours urging lawmakers not to let the program expire at the end of this year.

Sara Plourde for NHPR

A plan to extend New Hampshire’s Medicaid expansion will have its first big test on Thursday, when it goes before the full Senate for a vote.

A bipartisan measure to protect patients against so-called “balance billing” got a strong endorsement from the New Hampshire House on Tuesday – sailing through with no debate and passing with a vote of 326-5.

elliothospital.org

The state Attorney General's office will allow a proposed affiliation between two New Hampshire hospital systems to move forward.

A Medicaid rule that's been on the books since the program was created bars states from using federal money on care provided in many residential mental health and substance use treatment facilities with more than 16 beds.

Sara Plourde/NHPR

Supporters and opponents alike are gearing up for a high-stakes battle over the future of the of the state’s Medicaid expansion to start in earnest next week — when Senate Republicans will formally present their plan for extending the program another five years.

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By the end of this year, New Hampshire families will have lost two places to turn to give birth, continuing a years-long trend of maternity unit closures in the Granite State and across the country.

Allison Quantz for NHPR

New Hampshire health officials say 20 people in the state have died of the flu or flu-related complications this season.

WMUR-TV reports seven of the deaths were included in last week's report. All of the victims have been adults.

Last year, there were 45 flu deaths in the state, and flu season peaked in mid-February.

State epidemiologist Dr. Benjamin Chan says so far, New Hampshire doctors have treated more than 2,100 people who were suffering from flu-like symptoms.

A New Hampshire medical center is getting a $900,000 federal grant to address prescription drug misuse by creating a network of doctors, mental health providers, and addiction treatment centers.

Cheshire Medical Center/Dartmouth Hitchcock in Keene is receiving the grant from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration Office of Rural Health Policy.

The medical center says a lack of coordination among doctors, recovery centers and mental health professionals means prescription drug use isn't being monitored optimally.

KOMUNews | Flickr Creative Commons / https://flic.kr/p/aDWgGW

This story has been updated with a statement provided by Envision Healthcare.

When Seabrook resident Donna Beckman got a surprise medical bill after a trip to her local emergency room last summer, she eventually learned it was because the doctor who treated her wasn’t part of her insurance network.

But Beckman’s story doesn’t just serve as a cautionary tale about how patients can be unexpectedly “balance billed” for out-of-network services at in-network medical facilities. It also illustrates how little the average patient knows about who’s involved in their medical care.

Casey McDermott, NHPR

A lot of people assume that if a hospital is in their insurance network, the doctors who treat them there will be, too. But that’s not always the case — and it can leave patients on the hook for thousands of dollars in unexpected charges. 

NHPR’s Casey McDermott took a look at how this is playing out in New Hampshire, and what lawmakers are trying to do to address it.

Peter Biello / NHPR

The New Hampshire Senate has passed legislation allowing physicians from the Veterans Affairs Medical Center to continue treating patients at outside facilities while the flood-damaged VA hospital is being renovated.

Other hospitals agreed to let VA providers use their facilities after a burst pipe in July caused severe flooding at the VA hospital in Manchester. But under New Hampshire licensing rules, doctors with out-of-state medical licenses can only practice at the VA hospital.

Allison Quantz for NHPR

Have you ever gone to an ER that you thought was in-network, but ended up getting stuck with a surprise bill because the doctor you saw there was out-of-network? That’s known as “balance billing,” and New Hampshire is one of a growing number of states looking at ways to protect patients from these unexpected — and often large — invoices.

Flickr/ Anne and Tim (Creative Commons)

In recent days, Gov. Chris Sununu has used the fate of the Children’s Health Insurance Program as a key talking point in his efforts to publicly pressure New Hampshire’s Congressional delegation to vote in favor of deals to avert a government shutdown. When news broke Monday that such a deal had been reached, Sununu offered a sigh of relief.

Casey McDermott, NHPR

A public hearing on plans to combine Elliot Hospital and Southern New Hampshire Health drew a who’s who of local influencers in Manchester last night – all of them with positive reviews for the prospect of seeing the two hospitals join together.

New Hampshire is one of 49 states reporting “widespread” flu activity, meaning the virus is rearing its head in more than half of the state. And according to the latest data from the Department of Health and Human Services, at least 10 adults have died from the virus in New Hampshire since September.

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