Health

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Maine Community Health Options

A health insurance cooperative based in Maine has received $67 million federal loan to expand into New Hampshire’s healthcare exchange.

When the federal healthcare marketplace opened in 2013, Maine Community Health Options made waves when it grabbed a whopping 83 percent market share in Maine. The small cooperative outcompeted Anthem - the only other insurer on Maine’s marketplace at the time, and currently the only insurer on New Hampshire’s healthcare exchange.

Jack Rodolico

Anyone can take a first aid class to learn how to perform CPR or splint a broken bone. But how should you respond to someone not in a physical health crisis, but a mental health crisis?

Mental health professionals in New Hampshire are promoting a course in mental health first aid. The goal is to train the general public to recognize the signs of mental illness - and encourage them to intervene.

For 20 years, Charlie fought bruising battles with mental illness. When he was at his lowest point, here’s how he describes his life.

Centers for Disease Control

  One of the people infected with Eastern Equine Encephalitis in New Hampshire this year has died from the disease. The 51 year old woman spent nearly a month in the hospital before succumbing to the illness.

According to the online obituary of a Rhode Island Funeral Home, Diane Humphreys of Conway passed away in a hospice home in Maine on September eighteenth.

Humphreys was the first confirmed human case of triple E in the state back in August.

A plan to make the Monadnock region one of the healthiest communities in the country has received a financial boost from the federal government.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has awarded $1.1 million to Healthy Monadnock 2020, an initiative of Cheshire Medical Center-Dartmouth Hitchcock Keene. The hospital is working with schools, farmers and other private and public entities to prevent some of the leading causes of death, such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

Jason Meredith

New Hampshire has a higher rate of breast cancer than any state in the U.S. according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In 2011 - the most recent data available is from back - out of every 100,000 people in the state, there were 141.7 cases of breast cancer. In part, that’s because of demographic; breast cancer is most prevalent in white women, and New Hampshire is about 94 percent white.

Jack Rodolico

The number of urgent care clinics in New Hampshire has almost doubled since 2012. And in the next year, three such clinics will open their doors in the City of Keene. That will mean more choices for patients in the Monadnock Region - and stiff competition for the clinics.

Urgent care clinics are often called retail healthcare. You’ll see the clinics in strip malls. The idea is you can walk in without an appointment, be treated by a doctor for anything from a bad cut to a broken finger to a sore throat, and get out -- quickly.

Jack Rodolico

New immigrants often face an unexpected challenge: how to navigate away from an American diet that takes a toll on your health? That’s becoming easier in New Hampshire due to a network of markets and farms that carry familiar foods for the state’s foreign residents.

New Hampshire is home to a small but growing immigrant population; about one in 20 Granite Staters are foreign born. And there’s an experience that unites many of them: that bewildering first visit to an American grocery store.

via SEC.gov

The six New England governors are urging the U.S. Health and Human Services secretary to reverse the Food and Drug Administration's approval of a powerful new painkiller, Zohydro.

In a letter dated Thursday, the governors of Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island tell Secretary Sylvia Burwell that the region is in the midst of an addiction crisis.

The drug Zohydro is an extended-release capsule that contains up to five times the amount of narcotic hydrocodone previously available in pills.

Michael Dorausch

A new study out of Dartmouth tracks a rise in healthcare costs across northern New England. It is not exactly surprising data. But what is new is that the information is even available.

Between 2008 and 2010, people on private insurance in New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont saw healthcare costs climb by 4.5 percent annually.

For just shy of a decade, northern New England states have required insurance companies to report how much they pay for services like blood tests and X-rays. That’s important because, historically, these data lived in the dark.

Two New Hampshire healthcare centers will split nearly half a million dollars in federal grants announced on Tuesday. The funding comes from the Affordable Care Act and will be used for renovations.

Lamprey Health Care will use its $250,000 grant to make its Raymond facility more accessible for patients and doctors. The work will include redesigning the floor plan and making the entrance more accessible to wheelchairs. Michelle Gaduet, Lamprey's Communications Coordinator, says the building hasn’t been updated in 18 years.

James Jordan / Flickr CC

Eastern Equine Encephalitis, also known as triple E, has been detected for the first time this year in New Hampshire. The Department of Health and Human Services found the disease, which can be fatal to humans, in a batch of mosquitos from Londonderry.

Eleven humans have contracted the disease in New Hampshire since 2005, though there have been no recorded cases since 2009.

Abigail Mathewson State Public Health Veternarian says the discovery marks the beginning of mosquito-borne illness season.

Anne Peterson via Flickr CC

State health officials say several recent salmonella infections in New Hampshire are linked to a national outbreak.  

According to the Department of Health and Human Services, 11 people in the state were infected with salmonella shortly after exposure to chicks or chickens.

The patients became ill between late March and early July, and most had been raising the chicks in their homes or backyards.

Two were hospitalized, and all have fully recovered.

NHPR / Michael Brindley

Roughly 9,400 people have enrolled for coverage under the state’s Medicaid expansion program, which is set to launch Friday.

Since enrollment opened on July 1, nearly a fifth of the 50,000 low-income Granite Staters expected to qualify for coverage have successfully signed up.

Speaking at Lamprey Community Health Center in Nashua on Monday, Governor Maggie Hassan calls that a good start.

New Hampshire is getting a $1 million grant to expand a home visiting program for pregnant woman and parents with children up to age 5.

The money is going to the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program established by the Affordable Care Act.

The money will allow nurses, social workers and early childhood educators to reach more parents and families.

Four health centers in the state will be sharing about $921,000 in federal funds to help people with mental illness or substance abuse...

The funds are coming through the Affordable Care Act and they’ll be used at community health centers, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services said Thursday.

Those centers are:

* Goodwin Community Health in Somersworth: $250,000.

* Harbor Homes in Nashua: $250,000.

* Manchester Community Health Center: $250,000.

* City of Manchester: $171,360.

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.

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.

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.

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.  

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.” 

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.

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.

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.

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.”

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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