Health

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Peter Biello / NHPR

The New Hampshire Senate has passed legislation allowing physicians from the Veterans Affairs Medical Center to continue treating patients at outside facilities while the flood-damaged VA hospital is being renovated.

Other hospitals agreed to let VA providers use their facilities after a burst pipe in July caused severe flooding at the VA hospital in Manchester. But under New Hampshire licensing rules, doctors with out-of-state medical licenses can only practice at the VA hospital.

Allison Quantz for NHPR

Have you ever gone to an ER that you thought was in-network, but ended up getting stuck with a surprise bill because the doctor you saw there was out-of-network? That’s known as “balance billing,” and New Hampshire is one of a growing number of states looking at ways to protect patients from these unexpected — and often large — invoices.

Flickr/ Anne and Tim (Creative Commons)

In recent days, Gov. Chris Sununu has used the fate of the Children’s Health Insurance Program as a key talking point in his efforts to publicly pressure New Hampshire’s Congressional delegation to vote in favor of deals to avert a government shutdown. When news broke Monday that such a deal had been reached, Sununu offered a sigh of relief.

Casey McDermott, NHPR

A public hearing on plans to combine Elliot Hospital and Southern New Hampshire Health drew a who’s who of local influencers in Manchester last night – all of them with positive reviews for the prospect of seeing the two hospitals join together.

New Hampshire is one of 49 states reporting “widespread” flu activity, meaning the virus is rearing its head in more than half of the state. And according to the latest data from the Department of Health and Human Services, at least 10 adults have died from the virus in New Hampshire since September.

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New Hampshire’s medical marijuana program has more than doubled in size since 2016. About 4,700 patients were enrolled in the program by the end of 2017.

Michael Holt is the Therapeutic Cannabis Program Administrator for the Department of Health and Human Services. He joins us now to talk about how the state’s medical marijuana program has grown.

(Editor's note: this transcript has been edited lightly for broadcast.)

Peter Biello / NHPR

It’s been nearly six months since problems at the Manchester VA made national headlines.

Whistleblowers came forward with accusations of dangerous delays in care and unsanitary conditions. A task force formed in the wake of those accusations has been meeting to figure out the best way to deliver care for New Hampshire veterans.

Morning Edition Host Rick Ganley spoke with NHPR's Peter Biello who attended a meeting of the task force yesterday.


Laura Greenberg knows firsthand how important housing supports can be for someone experiencing a mental health crisis. The Nashua resident said being involved in the Bridge Program at Harbor Homes helped her to avert homelessness during her own crisis several years ago. Today, she's “back on track” and working as a licensed nurse assistant.

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Citing financial challenges, LRGHealthcare says it’s reviewing whether it will need to cut or change some of its programs – including its maternity unit.

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New Hampshire’s medical marijuana program has more than doubled in size since 2016, according to the latest available data from the Department of Health and Human Services. About 4,700 patients were enrolled as of Dec. 20, up from just over 2,000 patients the same time last year. 

Keren Fenton / thebirthphotographer.com

The New Hampshire House is expected to vote this week on a bipartisan bill to create a family medical leave insurance program in the state. The bill was originally on the docket for last week but is among a slew of votes that had to be rescheduled because of the winter storm.

The bill would allow workers to pay into a family medical leave fund that could cover up to 12 weeks of paid time off for things like serious medical conditions or the birth of a new child.

Garrett Vonk

To appreciate the severity of the backlog facing New Hampshire hospitals right now, consider that John Eddy, the pharmacy manager at Weeks Medical Center in Lancaster, recently underwent his own surgical procedure and came back with this story.

“You know, they knock you out before you go in, and all the way down the hallway all I talked about was the drug shortage. [The doctors] got quite a kick out of that,” Eddy said. “It’s weighing heavily on me.”

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A bill that would strengthen rules to prevent childhood lead poisoning is one step closer to the governor’s desk.

The New Hampshire House passed the proposal by a wide margin on the first session day of the year Wednesday.

The bill, which was a holdover from last year, mandates lead testing for all New Hampshire kids aged 1 and 2, though parents can opt out.

It also lowers the blood-lead level at which the state will intervene, and creates a loan fund to help landlords deal with lead paint issues.

Valerie Everett, Flickr Creative Commons

It’s been 100 days since Hurricane Maria battered Puerto Rico, knocking out power for much of the island — including to major suppliers of IV solutions and other medical products.

U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan says a bill she co-sponsored to help stop the flow of illegal fentanyl into the United States is on its way to the president's desk.

Hassan, a Democrat, says the bipartisan bill will provide scanning devices and other technology to Customs and Border Protection workers, and will boost funding for staff such as scientists to interpret screening results. Senate passage of the bill comes as the Center for Disease Control and Prevention issued a report finding that for the first time, fentanyl rather than heroin is now the deadliest opioid drug.

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Nashua is now the second New Hampshire city to sue pharmaceutical giants over their alleged role fueling the community’s opioid crisis. The city’s complaint is almost identical to one filed on behalf of the city of Manchester in September.

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A key player in the state’s fight against drug addiction has gone under financially, after running a deficit of more than half a million dollars.

A new report from UNH's Carsey School of Public Policy is sounding alarm over the growing number of New Hampshire infants born dependent on opioids.

N.H. Near Last in Spending to Combat Tobacco Use

Dec 13, 2017
FILE

New Hampshire ranks near the bottom in the country when it comes to funding anti-smoking programs and prevention. 

Suicide is the second leading cause of death among adolescents and young adults in New Hampshire, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Exeter Hospital recently endorsed an initiative for suicide prevention as a part of a five-year strategy to address the on-going issue in the state.

Morning Edition Host Rick Ganley spoke with Debra Vasapolli, director of community relations for the hospital, about the Zero Suicide initiative.

  (Editor's note: this transcript has been edited lightly for clarity.)

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A bill authored by New Hampshire Rep. Annie Kuster to improve the Department of Veterans Affairs' prescription drug monitoring program is headed to President Donald Trump's desk.

Kuster, a Democrat, says under current law, when Veterans Health Administration providers prescribe a controlled substance, the VHA is required to disclose that information to state-controlled substance monitoring programs. But it is currently only transmitting data for patients who are veterans. About 10 percent of VHA's patient population is left out, including dependents and other non-veterans.

Twenty-thousand people who have insurance through Minuteman Health are getting more time to pick new plans.

Minuteman announced in June that it would stop offering plans in 2018. Current members were initially told they should choose a new plan through healthcare.gov during the Nov. 1 through Dec. 15 open enrollment period, but the federal government on Monday said they have been granted more time. Those who want more time should indicate on the website that they are selecting a plan through special enrollment, and then will have until March 1.

The U.S. senators from New Hampshire and West Virginia have introduced a bill to prioritize federal funding for states that have been hardest hit by the opioid epidemic.

It would require the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to take into account mortality rates and lack of access to treatment and services when allocating grants to states, rather than making determinations based on population size.

KOMUNews | Flickr Creative Commons / https://flic.kr/p/aDWgGW

Anthem is planning to get tougher about covering ER visits for ailments that could be treated outside of an emergency room.

Allison Quantz for NHPR

A committee of lawmakers, health and insurance officials studying the future of New Hampshire’s Medicaid expansion voted unanimously on Wednesday to recommend moving the program toward a managed care model in 2019 and beyond.

Casey McDermott, NHPR

The Executive Council approved contracts Wednesday with 10 separate reproductive health providers and community health centers across the state.

istock photo

Open enrollment for the Affordable Care Act began on Wednesday, but consumers are more confused than ever given the uncertainty over healthcare policy in Washington this past year.

The New Hampshire Insurance Department will host its annual public hearing on health insurance premiums and medical care cost drivers Friday at the UNH School of Law in Concord.

New Hampshire's Democratic U.S. senators are reminding residents that open enrollment starts Wednesday under the Affordable Care Act, and that they object to the Trump administration's efforts to dismantle the health care law.

Residents of a Vermont nursing home are looking for new places to live after learning the facility is closing at the end of November.

The Valley News reports that Brookside Health and Rehabilitation Center in White River Junction notified residents Wednesday, five days after the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced it would end payments for patient care at the 67-bed facility.

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