Health

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U.S. Department of Agriculture

A house committee heard testimony Wednesday on a bill that would restrict where the state’s low-income residents can use EBT cards.

The bill would ban people from using EBT cash benefits at businesses that primarily engage in tattooing and body piercing. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Charles McMahon (R-Rockingham), says the ban would also extend to smoke shops and future medical marijuana dispensaries.

rad(ish) labs via Flickr Creative Commons

A proposal to shift the Affordable Care Act's annual enrollment period could both help and hurt consumers.

The current enrollment period ends Feb. 15, but insurance companies already are scrambling to prepare 2016 plans and rates because the federal government wants future enrollment periods to run from Oct. 1-Dec. 15. That would help uninsured consumers avoid tax penalties, because those who sign up by Dec. 15 would have coverage for the entire next year.

Via NH.gov

Nearly 90 percent of those leaving New Hampshire's prison system are eligible for health care coverage under the state's expanded Medicaid program. And while they make up a small fraction of the more than 30,000 who have signed up so far, health and corrections officials say getting them enrolled could have far-reaching effects.

Credit Taber Andrew Bain

It will soon be easier for police to reverse heroin and opioid overdoses.

Governor Maggie Hassan and the Department of Safety will create a new license for police that would allow them to administer a nasal spray called as naloxone, or Narcan. Narcan is what’s called an opioid antagonist, and it can save people in the throes of an overdose.

Police in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island have access to the drug.

Jack Rodolico

Last April, the news broke that 40 veterans had died while waiting for medical care from a VA Hospital in Arizona. That provoked a national outcry at long wait times for sick vets.

Congress passed a $16.3 billion law to overhaul the Veterans Affairs Administration, and a crucial aspect of that law is now unfolding in New Hampshire. The idea is for the VA to pay for medical treatment outside the VA system.

Lakeview Systems

A beleaguered company accused of neglecting and abusing people with disabilities has sold off most of its programs in New Hampshire.

Lakeview Neurorehabilitation Center in Effingham has come under heavy fire for neglecting the people it is paid to care for – minors and adults with disabilities and brain injuries. Since September the facility has been under review by the state.

And until last week, parent company Lakeview Systems owned eight other programs with a total of about 55 beds in six New Hampshire communities.

B.A.D. via Flickr CC

As the number of heroin-related deaths and hospital visits rise in New Hampshire, health officials have started a website directory for locating drug treatment services in the state.

The site, www.nhtreatment.org, was developed to help people in need of alcohol and drug abuse treatment find available service providers.

Joe Harding, director of the Bureau of Drug and Alcohol Services, said the site also will enable providers who provide treatment to easily register to list their services.

Federal Health officials say 23,210 New Hampshire customers signed up for health insurance using healthcare.gov during the first month of the second enrollment period.

Nearly seventy percent of enrollees qualified for federal subsidies, and more than 40 percent were new customers under the federal exchange.

Rick Kimpel via Flickr CC

A new federal report says New Hampshire hospitals are making progress in reducing both errors and unnecessary re-admissions.

The federal Department of Health and Human Services released a report this month estimating that the 3,700 hospitals participating in the Partnership for Patients program prevented 1.3 million patient harms and re-admissions and saved more than $12 billion in health spending around the country.

Jon Ovington

A bill proposed in the state legislature would end Medicaid payments for circumcisions.

The bill’s sponsor, state representative Keith Murphy of Bedford, describes the practice as unethical.

"To me there’s something fundamentally wrong about strapping a baby boy to a board and amputating perfectly healthy, normal tissue," says Murphy.

Murphy adds trimming circumcisions from the state budget will save money, although how much will be determined by the legislature next year.

Via U of Iowa

Public health officials in northern New England say 2014 was another big year for Lyme disease in the region.

Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention Director Sheila Pinette says the state is likely to exceed last year's record high of 1,384 cases of the illness. Vermont officials say their state is on track for its second- or third-highest total on record following the 2013 high of 671. New Hampshire officials say the Granite State's numbers are in line with recent years, which included a record-high in 2013.

Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, Lebanon

Three New Hampshire hospitals will be penalized next year for potentially avoidable mistakes, such as patient infections and injuries.

The federal government claims Dartmouth-Hitchcock in Lebanon and Eliot Hospital and Catholic Medical Center in Manchester should have done more to protect people from a list of "hospital-acquired conditions" in 2013. Those conditions include falls, bed sores, and infections from catheters.

As a result, in the fiscal year starting next October, the feds will penalize those three hospitals one percent of their Medicare payments.

West Coast Cannabis / Flickr/CC

  The Department of Health and Human Services will soon begin asking for license applications from people who want to operate one of four medical marijuana dispensaries. A few proposals have already surfaced and some are partnering with outside companies.

Rex Bunnell hopes to find himself behind the counter of an Alternative Treatment Center, or ATC. That’s what the state calls its medical marijuana dispensaries.

Lakeview Neurorehabilitation Center, Effingham, NH.

A new state report documents systemic neglect and abuse at a residential facility for people with disabilities in Effingham.

Now the state will determine if the facility can keep its doors open. But the state may simply be ill-equipped to stop these kinds of problems before they happen.

Lakeview Neurorehabilitation Center, Effingham.

A report due out Monday could determine the future of a facility for people with disabilities. But some advocates are already concerned about how that report was written.

In September, the Disability Rights Center alleged the death of one resident at Lakeview Neurorehabilition Center in Effingham was indicative of a wide pattern of neglect, abuse and isolation.

"There were pervasive problems with clients not being appropriately monitored, clients being injured," says Karen Rosenberg. "Yet the [Department of Health and Human Services] took no action."

Lance McCord via Flickr CC

New Hampshire health officials say it's not too late to get the flu vaccine.

Officials said even though the vaccine is not a perfect match for the strain of flu that's making most people sick in the United States this year, it still offers some protection against the flu and its complications.

Simon Bergmann via Flickr CC

Monday marks a key deadline in the enrollment period for New Hampshire residents shopping for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

The health law's second signup season ends February 15th, but Monday is the last day to enroll for coverage that starts January 1st.

As that date nears, insurance company officials are urging consumers to consider all their options given that the number of companies offering health plans has increased from one to five. The number of plans available to individuals also has jumped, from 11 to 40.

Families First Health & Support Center

Ten community health centers in New Hampshire are getting $486,000 in federal money meant to reward them for being leaders in areas such as chronic disease management and preventive care.

The money from the Department of Health and Human Services is part of the Affordable Care Act and is going to centers that have achieved the best overall clinical outcomes or have exceeded national benchmarks.

CDC

Ebola isn’t in the headlines as much as it was about a month ago, but that doesn’t mean it’s not still a problem in West Africa. Over 6,000 people have died there and more than 17,000 have gotten sick with the virus. The Pentagon has sent troops to Africa to help fight the disease, and healthcare workers from around the country have also volunteered.

NHPR spoke with one of those volunteers. Dr. Elizabeth Talbot is New Hampshire’s Deputy Epidemiologist, and she joined us on the line from Sierra Leone, where she’s been for a month.

Less than six months after sign-ups began, New Hampshire is already close to meeting its first-year enrollment target for the state's newly expanded Medicaid program.

The state's previous Medicaid program covered low-income children, parents with non-disabled children under 18, pregnant women, older residents and people with disabilities. The expansion adds anyone under 65 who earns up to 138 percent of federal poverty guidelines, which is about $15,900 for a single adult.

Steve Cottrell via Flickr CC

A survey of senior centers in New Hampshire shows that nearly 19 percent of older adults are in need of early or urgent dental care that may be difficult for them to access.

A total of 610 adults age 60 and older were screened last winter and this spring in the survey, which was funded by the National Association of Chronic Disease Directors and New Hampshire Bureau of Elderly and Adult Services. The survey said 38 of the participants received restorative treatment using state funds.

Jack Rodolico

On the field, the UNH Wildcats had a nearly perfect season, advancing into the playoffs as the top ranked team in their division. But off the field, a study using this team is trying to figure out how to reduce concussions. The big idea is to protect player’s heads by having them practice - without a helmet.

It’s no big secret that football, from the NFL down to Pee-Wee leagues, has a concussion problem. And there are lots of efforts out there to fix it: new helmets, softer turf, gentler tackling rules, even diagnostics on the field to identify concussions right after a hit.

Taber Andrew Bain

A task force appointed by the governor says first responders need quick and easy access to a drug that’s been proven to save lives during a heroin overdose.

There were over 1,200 drug related emergency calls in NH last year. Seventy people died from heroin overdoses.

But the drug task force’s expects higher numbers in 2014, which is why it wants first responders to have easy access to a nasal spray called naloxone. That drug has proven to be effective in saving the lives of people in the throes of an opioid overdose.

ep_jhu

Drug and alcohol abuse put a $1.84 billion strain on the New Hampshire economy in 2012, according to a new study. That figure was almost three percent of the state’s GDP in that same year.

Saturday marked the beginning of the second round of open enrollment for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. And in New Hampshire that means a lot more options this time around for the nearly 100,000 residents without insurance.

Here's the problem: five insurers offering forty plans, each with varying premiums, deductibles, coinsurance, and co-pays. Who could blame you for being confused?

New Hampshire residents get their second chance to sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act starting Nov. 15. 

The second enrollment season for healthcare.gov runs through Feb. 15. More than 40,000 New Hampshire residents selected health plans during the first enrollment period, which ended March 31. 

Jack Rodolico

Once you hit 65, there’s a line of thinking that goes like this: Medicare is there to protect your health, and your wallet.

That’s mostly true. But about 10 percent of Medicare beneficiaries in New Hampshire – about 26,000 people – are susceptible to hospital charges that would be illegal on the private insurance market.

And most of those people are probably unaware if and when they pay those charges.

Richard Greene is one of those people. It all started with a pain in his shoulder.

The Lamprey Health Care center in Newmarket is getting a $242,000 grant through the Affordable Care Act to create or expand its mental health and substance abuse treatment programs.

The grant is part of $51 million in grants announced Thursday by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The money is going to 210 health centers to expand services to 440,000 people around the country.

At Lamprey, the grant means the number of people in New Hampshire with access to mental health or substance abuse treatment will increase by just over 200.

NHPR

The Department of Health and Human Services is delaying part of New Hampshire’s Medicaid Managed Care program.

Transferring New Hampshire’s Medicaid program to so called managed care is a huge, sprawling puzzle. The idea is for private insurance companies to take over the state program that provides health insurance for low income residents. And the trickiest part will be transferring the care of the sickest residents – people with developmental disabilities and traumatic brain injuries.

NHPR Staff

A new data set gives a bird’s eye view of New Hampshire’s uninsured residents – and how they stand to gain health coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

The data itself is not shocking. State health officials and insurers alike know New Hampshire’s most rural communities have the highest rates of uninsured. But this is the first time that information has been aggregated into a map that viewers can navigate on a county-by-county basis.

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