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Health

How one N.H. health center is trying to keep their patients insured

A stethoscope and pen.
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Special protections under the federal public health emergency mean Granite Staters do not have to prove their eligibility to remain covered by Medicaid.

When the federal government decided this month to extend the federal public health emergency into the summer, Cheryl Mosley, patient services manager of Lamprey Health Care, was relieved.

“I was like oh my gosh! Thank goodness!” she said. Lamprey has locations in Nashua, Raymond and Newmarket.

Right now, the health center has 686 patients who are currently at risk of losing their Medicaid coverage when the emergency declaration ends. The longer the federal public health emergency remains in place, the more time Mosley, and her colleague Kristina Veinotte have to connect with those patients. Lamprey works with many of the region’s low-income patients. 13 percent of their patients are uninsured and 31 percent are on Medicaid.

Pandemic protections mean Granite Staters do not have to prove their eligibility to remain covered by Medicaid. Those protections are part of why Medicaid enrollment has grown over 30 percent in New Hampshire in the past two years.

When the federal public health emergency is over, those eligibility requirements will be reimplemented. In January, state officials estimated over 80,000 Granite Staters could be at risk of losing coverage. Getting information in now, officials say, can help secure coverage after federal protections end.

The majority of those at risk of losing their coverage have overdue forms or missing information. A smaller number are expected to no longer be eligible for the program when protections end.

The state health department is mailing out notices on pink forms to Granite Staters. But language barriers and long phone wait times can make the process of retaining coverage difficult to navigate.

Veinotte is also mailing and calling patients.

"The problem I'm having, is the majority of people won't answer," she said. Talking to people when they come in for an appointment has worked well she said. Lamprey is considering a text option. So far, Lamprey staff have connected successfully with nearly 400 patients.

The federal government will give states a 60 day notice before ending the public health emergency.

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