Health

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Tech Tools Aim To Drive Down Health Costs In N.H.

May 7, 2015
Jack Rodolico

Healthcare reform has brought lots of changes, but here’s what hasn’t changed: healthcare is still expensive, and the price tag is still rising.

Mark Galvin founded of a string of tech companies on the Seacoast. And he says one thing has dampened all their prospects: the crushing cost of healthcare.

"Every time I went to start a new company, it went from being kind of a nonissue, to a little bit of an issue, to a bigger issue, to a giant issue," says Galvin.

İHH İnsani Yardım via Flickr/CC - http://ow.ly/M8CkI

The Ebola crisis in three countries in West Africa is not over, but as the rate of infection drops public health officials are looking at what they’ve learned from the epidemic that killed thousands, so that they can be better prepared for the next outbreak.

Study: N.H. Makes Gains In Treating Prostate Cancer

Apr 21, 2015
Allison Quantz for NHPR

A study out of Dartmouth suggests New Hampshire is making good progress in the fight against prostate cancer.

New Hampshire doctors are increasingly doing what the medical community recommends: treating high-risk prostate cancer with surgery and radiation, but leaving low-risk cancer alone, and simply monitoring it.

DavidWilson1949 via Flickr Creative Commons

The Senate Finance Committee will consider funding for the Department of Health and Human Services on Monday.

The Senate will take up the House budget, which ends funding for the state’s expanded Medicaid program, suspends ServiceLink - which connects elderly and disabled residents with funding and services - and delays a 10-bed mental health crisis unit at New Hampshire Hospital by one year.

While the House budget increased the Health and Human Services budget $110 million over the previous year, it fell $200 million short of Governor Hassan’s proposed budget.

Some Brace For Tax Penalty Under Affordable Care Act

Apr 14, 2015
Jack Rodolico

There’s an upside and a downside to being an independent massage therapist.

Upside: no boss. You work for yourself. Downside: no boss. There’s no employer to provide health insurance.

"So then the Affordable Care Act was coming around," says Rachelle Lowe, a masseuse in Concord, "what I found was it wasn’t as affordable as I thought. And the deductibles are outrageous, so at this time I’m still not insured."

Thomas Fearon

The Manchester VA Hospital must pay $21 million in a medical malpractice lawsuit. 

According to the federal judge who heard the case, a 60-year-old veteran in Bennington suffered a horrific ordeal that left him trapped inside his own body – and the event was entirely preventable.

After Michael Farley suffered a stroke in 2010, VA doctors failed to give him the proper medications to prevent a second stroke.  Medical staff also poorly coordinated Farley's care.

Latest numbers show that 1 in 68 children are diagnosed with being on the autism spectrum.

That’s higher than previous estimates of 1 in 88 children in 2012, according to the CDC.

Perspectives of Autism” is a panel discussion being held at the Currier Museum of Art in Manchester Tuesday night. It will focus on the symptoms of autism and support that is available.

U.S. Attorney's Office, District of N.H.

Two New Hampshire men have pleaded guilty to trafficking a huge amount of synthetic cannabis, also called spice, valued at about $4 million.

One year ago, undercover officers traced spice being sold in convenience stores in Hooksett and Londonderry back to two men producing the stuff at three locations in New Hampshire and Massachusetts. Officers found 3,000 pounds of spice, scales, boxes of empty packages, and residue of a controlled substance called AB-FUBINACA.

After pleading guilty, defendants Kyle Hurley, 32, and Robert Costello, 71, could face decades in prison.

PSB

A three-part documentary series premieres Tuesday on PBS explores groundbreaking fetal surgery being done at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

Twice Born: Stories From the Special Delivery Unit” follows four families as they go through in utero surgery to save the lives of their children.

The second and third installments air April 7 and April 14.

 A new report once again ranks Rockingham County as New Hampshire's healthiest, while Coos County remains at the bottom of the list.

The sixth annual report released this week by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute rates counties nationwide in two categories — health outcomes and health factors.

Child and Family Services

As the temperature dips below freezing tonight, activists and business leaders will sleep outside in Manchester’s Stanton Park to raise money and awareness for youth homelessness.

The timing is no coincidence. Manchester’s daytime homeless shelter recently slashed its hours due to lack of funding. The city is also considering a panhandling ban.

Cathy Schmidt, CEO of McLane Law Firm, says her headlamp and sleeping bag are packed.

The Department of Health and Human Services is offering a free blood test to people who may have drunk contaminated water at the Pease Tradeport in Portsmouth last year.

Perfluorochemicals, or PFCs, are used in products that resist heat – like Teflon, and the foam once used for fighting fires at Pease Airforce Base. PFCs were found in a well at the Pease Tradeport in May 2014.

The Obama Administration has opened a special enrollment period for health insurance through the federal exchange.

The federal government is betting people who did not sign up for insurance last year are now noticing they will be paying a penalty on their 2014 taxes, which are due next month.

So the hope is by opening up a special enrollment period, those same folks will buy policies so they will not have another penalty on their 2015 taxes.

Darren via Flickr CC

New Hampshire is receiving an $8.6 million grant to provide rental assistance for people with mental illness.

The grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development will help cover rent for up 150 individuals or families with mental illness.

Dean Christon is the director of the New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority.

House Repeals Buffer Zone Bill For Abortion Clinics

Mar 12, 2015
Allegra Boverman

The house voted Thursday to repeal a law that created buffer zones for protestors around health clinics that provide abortions.

In recent years, both New Hampshire and Massachusetts passed such laws. But last year, the Supreme Court overturned the Massachusetts law, and New Hampshire’s law is yet to be enforced.

Before the new bill passed be a 170-159 margin, Republican Representative Joseph Hagan of Chester said the existing bill steps on free-speech rights.

Senate Delays Vote To Extend State Medicaid Expansion

Mar 12, 2015

The Senate has voted to wait before deciding whether to extend the state’s expanded Medicaid program, also called the New Hampshire Health Protection Program.

Under the law that went into effect last year, the program will expire at the end of 2016. That’s the point when the federal government stops funding the entire expansion, dialing its contribution down to 90 percent.

In a bipartisan vote, the Senate tabled the extension in order to give more time to determine how the program is working.

In 2015, about 25 percent more New Hampshire residents bought insurance on the federal healthcare marketplace than the year before.

Officials with the Department of Health and Human Services said 53,005 people enrolled in plans in New Hampshire. The department also reports just over 50 percent of those enrollees were under the age of 35 – a target demographic for health reform advocates. 

2015 HealthCare.gov Enrollees By Type: New Hampshire

Click the bubbles above the chart to see the breakdown of re-enrollees by type:

 An insurance company and a group of medical providers are teaming up to start a new insurance company in New Hampshire.

The new company is a partnership between Massachusetts-based Tufts Health Plan and Granite Healthcare Network – the parent company for Catholic Medical Center, Concord Hospital, Wentworth-Douglas Hospital, LRGHealthcare, and Southern New Hampshire Health System.

Tufts Health Freedom Plan will begin selling insurance to employers. The company is considering selling in the individual market too, including on the federal healthcare exchange.

The federal government has approved a key aspect of New Hampshire's Medicaid expansion plan.

Since July, adults making up to 138 percent of the federal poverty limit — about $15,900 a year — have been eligible for coverage either through the state's managed care program for Medicaid or through a program that subsidizes existing employer coverage.

Why Lakeview's School Is On 'Provisional Approval'

Mar 5, 2015

Since October 2014, the Department of Education has found major deficiencies in virtually every aspect of the Lakeview School, one of the most expensive state-certified special education programs in New Hampshire. As a result, the school is on "provisional approval."

As of January 26 2015, Lakeview had not complied with the following deficiency findings:

Conway Daily Sun/Jamie Gemmiti

Yesterday, NHPR reported on abuse and neglect of people with disabilities at Lakeview Neurorehabilitation Center in Effingham. This story is the second in a two-part series on Lakeview.

Photos of Ryan's injuries were taken by Cote and published by NHPR with her permission

Since last September, Lakeview Neurorehabilitation Center in Effingham has been under scrutiny for abusing and neglecting some of the people it cares for – children and adults with brain injuries and developmental disabilities. NHPR has been looking into these accusations, and it turns out the state had warning signs about Lakeview going back to at least 2011.

This is the first of two stories on Lakeview, a look at the scope of those accusations. 

  One of the 14 applicants who would operate a medical marijuana dispensary in the state is eyeing a location in Dover.

A group affiliated with Wellness Connection of Maine says it wants to operate in the seacoast region. Board member Bill Eldridge says it would also be named Wellness Connection.

“Many of the things that have been developed in Maine, we plan to license their intellectual property and run similar operations with the same high standards in New Hampshire if we receive a license.”

Anthem Says Half The State Affected By Data Hack

Feb 24, 2015
via WUKY

  Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield now says 667,866 people in New Hampshire are affected by a recent data hack, or about half the state.  That figure includes former Anthem members.

Last month, Anthem revealed hackers tapped into a national database with the personal information of 80 million people.

Conway Daily Sun/Jamie Gemmiti

The state has accepted a Plan of Correction from Lakeview Neurorehabilitation Center in Effingham, which means, for now, Lakeview’s doors wills stay open.

Last September the Disability Rights Center released two reports alleging many instances of neglect and abuse at Lakeview, and at that time Governor Maggie Hassan shut down new admissions to the facility. Lakeview cares for people with developmental disabilities and traumatic brain injuries.

NHPR’s Jack Rodolico discussed what's next for Lakeview on All Things Considered.

More people signed up this year for insurance through Healthcare.gov than last year. But that news comes the same day the federal government announced it accidentally sent incorrect tax information to 800,000 people who purchased plans on the website.

In New Hampshire, 52,944 residents bought insurance through the federal exchange during the enrollment period that ended this past Sunday. That’s about 13,000 more than last year.

Families First Health & Support Center

The state of New Hampshire is receiving nearly $4.8 million in grant money to support home wellness visits for young children and pregnant women.  Federal Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell announced the grant Thursday as part of $386 million awarded nationwide to support home visitation programs.  Burwell says the grant gives New Hampshire the flexibility to tailor its home visit programs to address the needs of the communities they serve.  The national Home Visiting Program currently serves about one-third of the counties in the country with high rates of low birth weights

House Committee Hears Circumcision Bill

Feb 17, 2015
Jon Ovington

Today a house committee considered a bill that would prohibit Medicaid from funding circumcisions of newborn baby boys.

Bedford Republican Keith Murphy sponsored this bill. He firmly believes circumcision is dangerous – potentially, very dangerous.

"One hundred and seventeen children a year, on average, die from circumcision complications. In fact it’s one of the leading causes of neonatal male deaths," says Murphy.

Last Call For Health Insurance Before Tax Penalty Hits

Feb 13, 2015

This weekend marks the last chance for Granite Staters to sign up for insurance through Healthcare.gov.

To avoid a tax penalty, people have to purchase a plan with a starting date of March 1 by this Sunday.

Jayne Navarro, a patient navigator at Manchester Community Health Center, says she’s had steady traffic through her office for the past few weeks.

"People are now really understanding – especially now coming tax season – the importance of being able to take care of this," says Navarro.

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