Health Care

NHPR Staff

Governor Chris Sununu delivers his budget proposal to lawmakers this week. It’s the first step in a months-long journey to build a two-year spending plan that will affect nearly every aspect of life in New Hampshire.

To help you prepare for the months of headlines to come, NHPR reporters are highlighting areas of the budget that are likely to generate the most discussion.

Todd Bookman/NHPR

Senator Jeb Bradley says New Hampshire’s approach to Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act has been a success, but that doesn’t mean it couldn’t be improved.

1.30.17: Civics 101 & End of Life Care for Kids

Jan 30, 2017
joe bustillos via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/6m7Jhs

The Constitution grants the press freedom to hold elected officials feet to the fire. How does the White House Press Corps do it?  Today, Civics 101 gets a lesson from a master, NPR's Senior White House Correspondent Scott Horsley.

Also today, hospice care is increasingly a choice for end-of-life care. What does it mean for lives that have just begun? We'll hear about an option that's so far been unthinkable - hospice care for terminally ill kids.

Todd Bookman/NHPR

Following promises made during the campaign, Republicans are taking steps to repeal the Affordable Care Act. What will replace the health care law, and which provisions will be spared, is still very much a question in Washington. In New Hampshire, that’s causing unease for many in the substance abuse treatment community.

Allegra Boverman / NHPR

It’s tradition in New Hampshire for the new Governor to meet and greet his constituents following the inauguration. The reception line lets voters come face to face, if only for a moment, with the state’s next chief executive.

Most New Hampshire residents will never meet their governor. But on Inauguration Day, after the swearing in and the speech, the pomp and ceremony, the newly minted governor grants an audience to anyone willing to wait in line.

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.

Todd Bookman for NHPR

The term “apprentice” may conjure up thoughts of reality television and a certain President-elect, but actual apprenticeships--where workers learn skills on the job--are on the rise nationally. And in New Hampshire's health care industry, apprentices are being used as a way to fill a gap in the workforce.

NHPR

The CEO of Dartmouth-Hitchcock says he will step down when his contract expires next June.

A spine surgeon by training, James Weinstein has led the state’s largest health care system since 2011. During that time, he’s had to navigate both local and national challenges, including the arrival of the Affordable Care Act.

  A company that offers health insurance plans in New Hampshire under the Affordable Care Act is suing the federal government over a part of the health care law. 

istock photo

New Hampshire has joined a nationwide effort to block the proposed merger of Anthem and Cigna, the state’s two largest health insurers.

New Hampshire is one of a dozen states that have signed on to a lawsuit by the U.S. Department of Justice, challenging Anthem’s plans to purchase Cigna for $54 billion. The suit alleges the merger would reduce competition for millions of Americans who receive health insurance from their employers or through the Affordable Care Act.

Cordelia Zars / NHPR

Patients, employees, and officials with the VA Medical Center in White River Junction, Vermont came together on Monday to discuss how the hospital could improve. 

Town Halls like this one are a chance for veterans to take their concerns to the highest official at the hospital. But only one man out of about 50 spoke up, saying there had been a confusion in his appointment times. Director Al Montoya spoke at length to the veterans, saying the way to solve these kinds of administrative problems is by increasing communication.

Prescription Drug Treatment Info / Flickr/CC

As health care costs overall have continued to rise, medicines are driving a good share of that trend. We'll look at some of the factors at play, including advertising, patents, and government programs and regulations -- also, plans underway on Capitol Hill to address the issue. 

GUESTS:

Lissa / Flickr/CC

The debate over physician-assisted suicide came to the fore in New Hampshire last month when a Concord man asked about it on a national stage. Jim Kinhan, who himself has terminal cancer, asked Hillary Clinton at a Manchester town hall how she would, if elected president, use her executive power to bring attention to the issue. The conversation made news, but the discussion about aid in dying has been ongoing for decades, legalized first in Oregon twenty years ago, and in California just last year. And while only five states in all have passed a law, some in the Granite State hope that New Hampshire will be the sixth. But there is a lot of debate over the risks of allowing the option at all, and two bills seeking to form a study committee on the topic have passed through the legislature, only to be vetoed by Governor Hassan.  However, advocates are hopeful that this year's study committee bill has enough additional detail to pass her desk, and pave the way for a possible legalization bill in a future term.

NHHealthCost.org

A state website that helps people compare prices across healthcare facilities relaunched this week with an expanded library of medical procedures and new information on hospital-quality measures.

The new version of NHHealthCost.Org features 31 additional medical procedures, including physical therapy, behavioral health and chiropractic care. Cost estimates for 16 dental procedures are now available, as well as new information on the retail price of 65 brand-name and generic drugs.

Steve Smith via Flickr CC

An initial review of whether New Hampshire insurance companies are appropriately covering substance abuse treatment shows significant differences in how often claims are denied, but experts identified problems with only a handful of cases.

The probe comes as New Hampshire seeks to expand treatment and recovery services amid a growing heroin and opioid crisis. The state insurance department began looking into the issue in November after hearing from complaints from providers and advocates, and officials presented their preliminary findings in Concord on Friday.

Allegra Boverman / NHPR

As the sunset for New Hampshire's Medicaid expansion approaches, state legislators are debating how best, or whether, to extend the program. And while the prospect of dropping 47,000 Granite Staters who receive this coverage is daunting, some lawmakers are worried about how to fund it when federal support decreases.

Future of Nursing in New Hampshire

Jan 14, 2016
USA College of Medicine / Flickr/CC

As New Hampshire ages, the demands for both in-home and hospital care are increasing. And as medical facilities look for nurses with advanced degrees, finding a place for new graduates to gain training is a challenge. We'll see how nursing is set to change in response and the impact on the health care we all receive in the Granite State.

Primary 2016: Health Care on the Campaign Trail

Jan 6, 2016
Julie Kertesz / Flickr/CC

Health care still a top issue for voters, from the Affordable Care Act to lowering the cost of prescription drugs. And New Hampshire residents have made solving the opioid crisis a national priority. We're looking at where the twenty-sixteen presidential candidates stand.

Allison Quantz for NHPR

The holiday season is fast approaching, and coming along with it is the stress associated with making travel plans or preparing big meals for family gatherings. That stress could take a toll on your body as well as your mind. It could cause back pain, insomnia and stomach problems, just to name a few.

We know that rest is a good way to cut down some of these problems. But now a new study demonstrates that relaxation programs could reduce your medical bills as well. 

Paige Sutherland/NHPR

The heads of New Hampshire health care providers Dartmouth-Hitchcock, Elliot Health System and Frisbie Hospital announced Monday that they are teaming up with insurer Harvard Pilgrim Health Care.

Brady Carlson for NHPR

Former Senate president Peter Bragdon is no longer executive director of the public risk pool HealthTrust, a job he took in 2013 at the expense of the Senate presidency.

HealthTrust provides health insurance to New Hampshire municipalities and school districts. It was formerly part of the Local Government Center, a risk pool involved in a legal battle with regulators over allegations of mismanaged money. The LGC has since split into HealthTrust and Property-Liability Trust.

Morgan / Flickr/CC

Less Medicine, More Health. That’s the contradictory-sounding title of a new book by Dartmouth researcher and Doctor Gilbert Welch. It’s a challenge to the conventional wisdom among patients and providers that more testing and more treatment is always better.  Welch says in some cases, you can have too much health care – and can even be harmed by it.

Peter Biello / NHPR

VA Hospitals across the country are beefing up their preventative medicine programs. At the VA hospital in White River Junction, Vermont, a variety of programs open to New Hampshire and Vermont veterans are tackling health problems like obesity, tobacco use, and stress. Some of these programs at VAs across New England are still underutilized.

In a small room at the ground floor of the VA hospital in White River Junction, a handful of veterans sit around a table and talk with a dietitian about a battle they all fight: a battle against body fat.

Thomas Fearon

We’ve been listening back to a 1989 report on the state of mental health care in New Hampshire. Last week, reporter Kathy McLaughlin explored the living conditions in the old New Hampshire Hospital buildings, which could be crowded and grim.

Today, we share part two of that report. NHPR’s Martin Murray spoke with Paul Gorman, superintendent of New Hampshire Hospital, who explained how the hospital’s new, community-oriented facility sought to treat patients.

The state of New Hampshire has been officially providing care for its mentally ill citizens for over 170 years. In that time, there have been dramatic changes in the living conditions for patients – and the state’s approach to treatment.

In 1989, New Hampshire Hospital built a state of the art facility that sought to provide individualized care for patients with the most severe symptoms.

To mark that occasion, NHPR produced a two-part report on the history and future of New Hampshire Hospital. In part one today, you’ll hear reporter Kathy McLaughlin chronicle the living conditions in the old hospital buildings. Barred windows, dim lighting, and crowded sleeping wards fostered a rather gloomy environment.

From the archives this week, the inside history of New Hampshire Hospital, from reporter Kathy McLaughlin.


The number of health insurers in New Hampshire shrank by one this morning with the news that the state’s two largest players, Anthem and Cigna, have agreed to merge in a deal worth more than $48 billion.

Giving Matters: Telephone Game

May 9, 2015

When doctors in this country work with patients originally from other countries, it can feel like a bit of a telephone game. This feeling is compounded when there’s a translator in the room passing messages back and forth. 

Allison Quantz for NHPR

The New Hampshire Insurance Department is bringing together health care providers and insurers to explore why spending on health care is high and rising, and what can be done to change that.

Giving Matters: Keeping Health Care Close To Home

Apr 4, 2015
istock photo

When Lorraine Sevigny moved to New Hampshire, she still had health insurance through COBRA from her previous job but had to stay in her HMO network. “I became ill about a month or two after I came up and I did end up going down to Massachusetts to see my doctor,” so that her insurance would cover the cost. 

StopnLook via Flickr CC

A commission studying ways to reduce workers compensation costs in New Hampshire released its final report Friday, but did not go so far as to recommend a cap how much health providers can charge for the care of injured workers.

Instead, in the 38-page report, a majority of commission members recommends the panel continue its work for another year.

Pages