Michael Brindley / NHPR

On Thursday, the New Hampshire State Senate is scheduled to vote on a bill that’s getting a lot of attention in the dental community. The measure would expand the role of some hygienists. Advocates say this could help increase access in the state, but dentists argue it’s a misguided solution for a problem that may not exist.

Bill To Ban Medicaid Expansion Voted Down

Mar 20, 2013

The New Hampshire House has killed a bill intended to block the state from expanding its Medicaid program.

Opponents of expansion argue that the state can’t afford to grow the health care program for the poor.

But Thomas Sherman, a doctor and Democrat from Rye, told lawmakers the issue is one of social responsibility.

Sherman: “These are New Hampshire people. Our constituents. These are your family, your neighbors, and my patients.”

Leo Reynods via Flickr Creative Commons

Our niftiest and spiffiest content, all in one great show. This week, a look at the shifting human condition. Holocaust survivors being turned into holograms, a Russian "Swiss Family Robinson" that missed most of the 20th Century, corporate anthropologists, transplant "tourism," the nasty effect of internet comments, and a former professor pens a memoir about being stalked by an ex- student online.

Medicaid Overhaul Plan Hits A Road Block

Mar 15, 2013

It’s been three years since state lawmakers began touting managed care as the salvation of Medicaid.

The number of dangerous infections acquired at hospitals in New Hampshire is falling. A new report shows that there were 110 acquired infections in 2011. That’s a 20% decrease from 2009 levels.

State law mandates that hospitals report infections following certain procedures, including heart, colon and knee surgeries.

Beth Daly, Chief of Infectious Disease Surveillance at the state Health Department, says these are important numbers to track.

Today we sit down with New Hampshire's Health and Human Services Commissioner, Nick Toumpas.  After many years of budget cutting, Toumpas may see some funds restored to his budget... from mental health to children in need of services.  Also, he's working on figuring put what the Affordable Care Act could mean for his department, with the 2014 deadline of full-implementation looming.  We'll talk to him about that and take your calls and emails as well.


A day after the Federal government approved the state’s application for a partnership health exchange, the public had its chance to weigh in on the new insurance marketplaces.

Small business owners, parents and advocates lined up in Concord at an event organized by AARP and NH Voices for Health. Speakers expressed concerns about affordability.

Many called for more transparency.

Another fear is the sheer complexity of shopping for health insurance. Lisa Kaplan Howe with NH Voices hopes the new marketplaces will streamline the process.

The Federal government announced today that New Hampshire’s application for a partnership health care exchange has been approved. Exchanges are the new marketplaces where individuals and small businesses will shop for health insurance starting in October of this year. 

The partnership means the N.H. Insurance Department will continue to regulate plans sold in the state. The Federal government will pay for and control the new marketplace website and the '1-800 call center'.

Todd Bookman / NHPR

    The public had its chance today to weigh in on the state’s decision regarding Medicaid expansion.

Nearly two dozen people, all in favor of expansion, testified in front of a committee of state lawmakers.

That included Susan Bruce, who lost her husband, and then her health insurance in 2009. Her part-time job offers no coverage.  

Bruce: "It is an odd position to be in. I don’t make enough money to afford to live, really, but I make too much money to qualify for Medicaid as it currently exists."

Kindergarteners Learn ABCs, Adjust To MS

Mar 4, 2013
Todd Bookman / NHPR

Pam Sumner, blonde with a quick smile, was diagnosed ten years ago with multiple sclerosis. She’s reliant on a cane and easily fatigued. 

The 46-years old sends her husband to the grocery store, and when her son toured military colleges last spring, she found herself falling behind the group of parents and teenagers. But inside her kindergarten classroom at Rindge Memorial School, Sumner has no trouble keeping up with the 5 and 6 year olds.  

Todd Bookman / NHPR

New Hampshire consistently ranks as one of the healthiest states in the nation. But advocates say that masks an alarming rate of substance abuse, specifically among young adults.

And so, the Governor’s Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse is launching a new campaign to highlight the need for more resources.

Specifically, they want to see a greater percent of sales from state-owned liquor stores be allocated for counseling services.

For the past decade, lawmakers have instead used those funds to help balance the budget.

Mental Health Math Doesn't Add Up For Hospitals

Feb 21, 2013
Todd Bookman / NHPR

In the 1950s, the state psychiatric hospital in Concord was home to about 2,500 adults. The manicured campus had it all, including a golf course, barber shop, skating rink.

“For some folks, they talk about those days like some of us talk about going to college," says Ken Norton, Director of National Alliance on Mental Illness in New Hampshire (NAMI-NH).

“There was bowling and movie theaters and different events at night. They had their friends there and they were very used to the way that the hospital functioned.”

Green MPs / Flick/Creative Commons

The new practitioners would be something between a dentist and hygienist. They’d be certified to clean, do fillings, pull baby teeth and a host of other procedures.

Hygienists would need an extra year of training, and the supervision of a dentist to practice.

Some advocates say the new role is necessary to expand care to rural and poorer populations.

Update: Wednesday, February 13, 2013:

Rather than wait until the Friday deadline, Governor Hassan sent a letter today to the Federal government declaring the state's intent to enter into a partnership exchange. 

In a statement, the Governor said, "I do not believe it is in the best interest of our people to allow the federal government to impose a one-size-fits-all exchange on New Hampshire."


Six Songs For Celiacs

Feb 13, 2013

Our segment on celiac diet trends led us to local band, The Bramble Jam, and their song, "Gluten Free." It inspired us to separate the musical wheat from the chaff (so to speak) to create the perfect non-gluten playlist.

The Governor today affirmed that it’s her office that gets to make the final call regarding the type of health insurance exchange New Hampshire operates.

Public Has Its Say On Medicaid Expansion Bill

Feb 5, 2013
Todd Bookman / NHPR


New Hampshire’s Medicaid program currently insures poor children, the disabled and low income pregnant women.

But after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling on the Affordable Care Act, the state must decide if it wants to expand the program to adults that earn less than $15,000 a year: roughly 58,000 people in New Hampshire.

According to Representative Bill O’Brien, the state just can’t afford to cover those extra people.

N.H. Health Exchange Remains In Limbo

Feb 4, 2013

With a February 15th deadline looming, a group of lawmakers met today to discuss the direction of the state’s health insurance exchange. But the committee meeting produced more questions than answers.

The state needs to decide, and soon, if it will partner with the Federal government to run a new insurance exchange. For his part, Insurance Commissioner Roger Sevigny told a legislative oversight committee that he supports the partnership option.

Todd Bookman / NHPR

Nursing homes around the country are under pressure from the Federal government to reduce their use of antipsychotics. 

momentimedia via Flickr Creative Commons

Long gone are the days of Joe Camel and the Marlboro Man. (The last television ad for a cigarette, incidentally, aired on January 1, 1971 at 11:59pm, right up to the second an advertising ban took effect.) The tobacco industry faces strict regulation, but the market for E-cigarettes is still an unregulated, wild, wild west with endorsements ranging from Playboy Playmates to Stephen Dorff.

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E - The Environmental Magazine

Dear EarthTalk: My family has bad allergies and I’d like to improve our indoor air quality. What are some steps I should take?-- Marcia Lane, Scranton, PA

Chris in Plymouth via Flickr Creative Commons

Our awesome-est content from a week of awesome programs. This week, robots get FDA approval to treat patients on the fly, a nurse becomes a patient to teach students how to care for the dying, we look back at the Piltdown Man hoax, and the 90's band Guster goes acoustic.

The influenza season started much earlier this year and the strain is considered more severe.  Many worry how much of a toll this will take. In New Hampshire, at least twenty people have died from the flu already. We’ll talk with health experts about how this season compares to others and how health providers, schools, and individuals are coping. 


State Gets Failing Marks On Tobacco Report Card

Jan 16, 2013
Justin Shearer / Flick/Creative Commons

A new report out from the American Lung Association gives New Hampshire a failing grade on smoking prevention efforts. 

The state received a 'D' on smoke-free zones in public spaces, an 'F' on tobacco prevention spending, and a 'C' on cessation efforts.

Lee Gilman, Senior Director with the Association, says the state also needs to rethink its low tobacco tax.

Mental Health Advocates Push For $37M In Funding

Jan 15, 2013

Advocates for the state’s mental health centers say the state hasn’t lived up to its own plan to improve services in the state. And this week, they’re calling for more than $37 million in increased funding to support a stretched system.

The state’s 10-year plan, called ‘A Strategy For Restoration,’ came out in 2008. It called for major investments in the state’s mental health system, and was hailed as a great step forward. But 5 years into the initiative, advocates say the state has actually slid backwards.

An Alzheimer’s Update

Jan 15, 2013

Research now shows that Alzheimer’s can be diagnosed years before signs of dementia.  Science has not, however, produced any new treatments and evidence of prevention is still being studied.  We’ll look at recent developments and at concern over stress on families and the impact of this disease on the healthcare system.


Lawrence Jackson / via Wikimedia COmmons

Supporters of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) like to point out that since its passage in 1994, incidents of domestic violence are down by more than 50% nationwide.

But they also say this isn’t about stats, this is about people like Carrie Ann, who requested that her last name not be used.

"The abuse that I encountered was physical, mental, and sexual," she says. "It was constant, day-in-day out. By the end, I was virtually a prisoner. I wasn’t allowed to control my own finances. I couldn’t leave without fear that something truly horrific was going to happen."

Study: Childhood Obesity Rates Decline In N.H.

Jan 14, 2013

For the first time in recent years, obesity rates have gone down in New Hampshire children. The Centers for Disease Control’s first national study on childhood obesity finds that 14.2 percent of preschool-age children in the state are obese, down from 15.6 percent in 2003.

José Montero, Director of Public Health Services at the New Hampshire Department Of Health and Human Services, sees the decline as modest, but encouraging.

To Expand (Medicaid) Or Not To Expand

Jan 11, 2013

Lawmakers will decide this spring whether to expand the state’s Medicaid program to include childless adults making less than roughly $15,000. To make sure they have all the information they need, the Department of Health and Human Services commissioned a study to look at the effects.

We poured over the 61-page report, and boiled it down to these 5 takeaways.

Sidereal via Flickr Creative Commons

The slew of recent articles on obesity are nearly unanimous in agreement that there is a health crisis in the United States. Dr. Abigail Saguy, UCLA sociologist, takes a different perspective, saying there is no such medical consensus around the need to lose weight. In her latest book, she argues that our negative association with obesity is a deliberately framed viewpoint—and not necessarily a healthy one.