Health

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Brian Wallstin

A New Hampshire physician's assistant was arrested Friday by federal agents on allegations he received kickbacks for prescribing large amounts of an opioid painkiller. According to officials, Clough was the state's top prescriber of a fentanyl spray called Subsys.

Related story on Clough: Opioid Prescriber's Story a Cautionary Tale as N.H. Face Growing Crisis

Nixon Peabody

Gov. Chris Sununu has nominated Gordon MacDonald, a well-known Manchester attorney, to serve as Attorney General. MacDonald's clients include a major opioid maker being investigated by the state.

Portsmouth Regional Hospital

Portsmouth Regional Hospital will open more beds to psychiatric patients. The hospital hopes those beds will alleviate a backlog of patients boarded in emergency rooms.

On one day last month, a record 68 patients in acute mental health crises were stuck in emergency rooms around the state, waiting for a bed at New Hampshire Hospital, the state's lone psychiatric hospital. Now Portsmouth Regional will increase its inpatient psychiatric beds from eight to twelve in the hopes of chipping away at that wait time. 

AARP is taking a stand against the proposed healthcare overhall making its way through the House of Representatives.

AARP claims 233,000 members in New Hampshire, and the group says it basically doesn't like anything about the bill proposed by Congressional Republicans. On a conference all with reporters Thursday, AARP Legislative Policy Director David Certner said the bill would downshift the cost of healthcare to families and state government.

New Hampshire Public Radio

Not too long ago, New Hampshire was faulted for casting too wide a net when it came to institutionalizing people with mental illness.  That led to a lawsuit and a $30 million settlement, with the state agreeing to boost community-based care.

Now, though, according to Ken Norton, executive director of the NH chapter of the Alliance on Mental Illness, the state has swung too far in the other direction, with inadequate access to institutionalized care:

Allison Quantz for NHPR

The New Hampshire Hospital Association has won a court case against the federal government. It could mean more public money going to hospitals to cover the cost of providing uncompensated care.

Jason Moon for NHPR

A bill to create a commission to investigate a string of pediatric cancer cases on the Seacoast received unanimous support from the House Committee on Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs today. The bill also has the support of Governor Chris Sununu.

The commission would take up the work of a now-defunct taskforce that was investigating the unusually high number of rare pediatric cancer cases on the Seacoast.

Jack Rodolico

Brady Sullivan Properties, one of New Hampshire's biggest developers, will pay a fine for violating federal lead paint laws. 

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, Brady Sullivan did not disclose the existence of chipping lead paint to tenants of Mill West in Manchester before they moved in. Then the landlord exposed tenants to lead dust from a construction site below apartments.

Jason Moon for NHPR

Tooth decay is the leading chronic disease for children in the United States. It’s also one of the easiest to prevent. As NHPR’s Jason Moon reports, one dental hygienist on the Seacoast is finding fun ways to drive home that message to kids.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Gov. Chris Sununu says New Hampshire's expanded Medicaid program has been a success. That conclusion is a shift from his prior statements about the program, which has provided health insurance to more than 50,000 Granite Staters.

Thomas Fearon

Prompted by the suicide of a former patient last summer, an independent committee has wrapped up an investigation into care at New Hampshire Hospital.

Last July, 63-year-old Joy Silva jumped from her third-floor apartment in Nashua shortly after being discharged from the state psychiatric hospital. The obvious question that followed was: Could New Hampshire Hospital have done more to prevent Silva's suicide?

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The outgoing Director of the Division of Children, Youth and Families says public scrutiny of her agency’s shortcomings could provide opportunities to improve the state’s child safety network.

Ajay Suresh / flickr/cc

Evidence is growing that certain medicines can ease cravings for drugs and alcohol and improve people's lives. And the medical community, backed by substantial federal funding, is promoting these drugs, calling them life-savers in many cases. But there are skeptics: Some who feel this approach merely replaces one addiction for another and others who fear this is just another profit-making venture of so-called "big pharma."


Jack Rodolico

Catholic Medical Center in Manchester is your typical general hospital: they deliver babies, set broken bones, perform heart surgery. And it might be as good a place as any to witness how the opioid epidemic is transforming healthcare in New Hampshire.

For over a year, the New Hampshire Attorney General’s office has been trying to determine whether drug makers break the law in how they marketed opioid painkillers in the state. It’s a slow legal battle that could determine that pharmaceutical companies knew they were putting people at risk by overselling highly addictive painkillers. Many of those painkillers were abused – leading to an addiction and overdose epidemic.

There’s been a new development in that story, and NHPR’s Jack Rodolico sat down with Morning Edition to talk about it.

Health officials say New Hampshire has reported a high number of gonorrhea cases for last year, at 465.

The average in the past was about 130 cases per year, going back to 2007.

Dr. Benjamin Chan, state epidemiologist, said Thursday that New Hampshire historically has had one of the lowest rates of the sexually transmitted disease in the country. He said health officials are working to identify people who may have been exposed to gonorrhea to connect them with testing and treatment.

Paige Sutherland/NHPR

New Hampshire lawmakers are close to approving a federal grant to help the state Medical Examiners Office deal with a backlog of autopsies, mostly due to drug overdose deaths. 

Jack Rodolico

Starting October 30, Andrew Dixon spent 13 days in the emergency room at Frisbie Memorial Hospital in Rochester. And as his father, John Dixon, describes that time, you might think Andrew had committed a crime. 

NHPR

The state of New Hampshire could find itself back in court this year if it doesn’t comply with a class-action settlement aimed at rebuilding the state’s damaged mental health system. 

Wentworth-Douglass Hospital

Massachusetts' largest healthcare network has taken its first step into the New Hampshire health market by purchasing Wentworth-Douglass Hospital. 

Wentworth-Douglass in Dover and Mass. General Hospital in Boston have been clinical partners since 2008, and both say the acquisition will give the New Hampshire hospital access to more specialized doctors.

Pexels

Pharmaceutical executives have been in the hot seat, recently facing Congressional outrage over the cost of life-saving drugs, and President-elect Donald Trump has promised action. What is behind these price tags? And if government intervened to lower them, would there be un-intended consequences?


Thomas Fearon

Governor Maggie Hassan says a cyber-security consultant will evaluate the Department of Health and Human Services’ computer network following a data breach that compromised personal information for as many as 15,000 DHHS clients.

A bill in the New Hampshire legislature could make it legal to hospitalize someone against their will because of a drug addiction. The bill would amend the state law that allows authorities to involuntarily commit people suffering from a serious mental illness who pose a threat to themselves.

Republic Senator Jeb Bradley says he proposed the bill after he spoke with the family of someone who died of an overdose.

Jamie/Flickr

Prescription drugs costs are climbing faster than most other categories of health spending in New Hampshire, according to a new report by the state insurance department.

Jack Rodolico

With snow and sub-zero temperatures projected across New Hampshire for the next few nights, the city of Concord is still without a winter shelter for its homeless residents. The shelter is slated to open soon, but not by Thursday night, when the temperature is expected to plummet. 

The governor’s task force investigating cancer clusters on the Seacoast issued a set of recommendations Wednesday.

The task force was charged with investigating potential causes for unusually high rates of two cancers among children living in a region of the Seacoast.

Today the task force issued a set of recommendations, including one to extend municipal water to homes near the Coakley Landfill – a superfund site that was investigated as a potential cause of the high cancer rates.

Stefany Shaheen is a member of the task force.

Allison Quantz for NHPR

The federal government released data today on the impacts of the Affordable Care Act in New Hampshire.

The big picture is the uninsured rate in New Hampshire is down 43 percent since before the law went into effect. That means 63,000 people have gained coverage in the state through the Affordable Care Act.

About two-thirds of the newly insured bought coverage through Healthcare.gov, and the rest have signed up for the state's expanded Medicaid program, which provides insurance for low-income people.

Vaping360.com

A report from the U.S. Surgeon General is prompting health officials in New Hampshire to warn the public of the dangers of youth using e-cigarettes, also known as vaping.

The U.S. Surgeon General describes e-cigarette use as a major public health concern for youth and young adults. Over five years, e-cig use jumped 900 percent among high school students nationally, surpassing cigarettes, cigars and chewing tobacco.

PEXELS

The federal government says more than 10,000 Granite Staters signed up for insurance on Healthcare.gov in the first four weeks of open enrollment.

A total of 10,554 New Hampshire residents signed up for health insurance during open enrollment between November 1 and November 26, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Over that same period, more than 2.1 million across 39 states have bought coverage on the federal website. A quarter of those are new enrollees, while the rest were renewing their coverage. 

Getty Images

The Senate is scheduled to take up a bill next week that would send $1 billion to states battling the opioid addiction crisis.

The federal dollars would be divvied up among states based on per-capita drug overdoses. By that measure, New Hampshire ranks third nationally.

The funding would help strengthen the state's growing but still inadequate network of services, including prevention, early detox, long-term housing and mental health treatment, says Tym Rourke, Chair of the Governor's Commission on Substance Abuse.

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