Health

Health
9:15 am
Mon July 21, 2014

A Husband, A Wife, A Liver

Derek entertains Logan with his rendition of 'Oh Liver.'
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.

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Health
3:47 pm
Fri July 11, 2014

Hassan Signs $11 Million Mental Health Package

Gov. Hassan signs House Bill 1635 into law, surrounded by mental health advocates and lawmakers.
Credit 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.

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Health
5:08 pm
Thu July 10, 2014

Medicaid Enrollment Jumps By 11,000, Stretching State Budget

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.

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Health
4:31 pm
Tue July 8, 2014

First Cases Of Chikungunya Virus Reported In N.H.

Aedes species mosquitoes, which transmit chikungunya virus, have not been identified in New England.
Credit 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.  

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Health
2:47 pm
Mon June 30, 2014

Hassan Holds Medicaid Expansion Kick-Off Event

Governor Hassan speaking at the Manchester Community Health Center on Monday.
Credit 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.

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Health
4:52 pm
Tue June 17, 2014

More Hospitals, More Choices Coming To Health Exchange

Credit 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.

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Health
4:49 pm
Mon June 16, 2014

Medicaid Expansion Coverage To Start August 15th

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.

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Health
5:00 am
Wed June 11, 2014

Informational Campaign For N.H.'s Expanded Medicaid Kicks Off

Credit istock photo

  The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services held a public info session in Manchester Tuesday night to demystify the state’s new Expanded Medicaid plan.

About 15 people, mostly care providers, attended the Manchester session. Questions ranged from how one qualifies for the program and ‘are refugees included?’ (they are), to the application process itself.

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Health
4:18 pm
Mon June 9, 2014

Report: Frisbie Hospital Ranks 5th In Psychiatric Unit Restraints Nationally

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.

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Health
12:36 pm
Tue June 3, 2014

Medicaid Managed Care Organization To End Work In State

Credit 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.” 

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Health
3:22 pm
Mon June 2, 2014

The Suddenly Crowded New Hampshire Health Exchange

Credit 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.

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Health
6:28 pm
Thu May 29, 2014

State Nears Settlement With Most Hospitals

Governor Hassan announces a proposed settlement with 25 of the state's hospitals.
Credit Todd Bookman / NHPR

Governor Maggie Hassan has announced a tentative settlement with almost all the hospitals in the state over Medicaid rates and a tax on hospital revenues that two judges have said is unconstitutional.

Hassan told legislative negotiators Thursday the agreement with 25 hospitals hinges on legislation to address constitutional questions raised in court. The hospitals would get more money for the care they provide in exchange for dropping a lawsuit over rates and putting on hold their challenge of the tax's constitutionality.

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Health
3:58 pm
Wed May 28, 2014

Little Progress Made Toward Solving Legislature’s Biggest Remaining Policy Question

Senators Jeanie Forrester (R-Meredith) and Lou D'Allesandro (D-Manchester) during a legislative meeting on Wednesday.
Credit 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.

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Health
4:48 pm
Tue May 27, 2014

Health Law Proves Big Business For Contractors

Governor Maggie Hassan signs New Hampshire's Medicaid expansion plan into law on March 27, 2014.
Credit 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.”

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Health
6:15 pm
Thu May 22, 2014

$40 For An Ice Pack? Workers' Comp System Comes Under Review

A report comparing workers comp costs finds the average cost for an MRI in New Hampshire is $932, while the regional average is $699 and the national rate is $552.
Credit 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.

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