Jason Moon

Reporter

Before joining NHPR's newsroom in February of 2015, Jason held internships with a variety of public radio organizations including StoryCorps, Transom.org, and WBHM in Birmingham, Alabama. He studied philosophy, political science, and audio documentaries at Bennington College in Vermont.

Jason lives in New Hampshire's Upper Valley region and covers a variety of topics including health, and is the host and reporter behind Bear Brook, an investigative podcast. 

NHPR Staff

The state senate yesterday unanimously passed two bills aimed at boosting mental health services and protecting vulnerable children.

The votes came on the same day Governor Chris Sununu was outlining his budget which looks to tackle some of the same issues.

One bill, passed Thursday, would add 77 positions to the Department for Children, Youth, and Families over the next two years. That's 15 more positions than Sununu called for in his speech.

PEXELS

New Hampshire's shortage of workers not only affects the state's overall economic growth, but it's also limiting access to health care services.

Morning Edition Host Rick Ganley spoke with Bob MacLeod, the CEO of Mid-State Health Center in Plymouth, about how he's struggling to find enough primary care physicians to keep up with the demand.

This is a partial transcript from the interview. To hear the whole conversation, click on the audio above.

Paige Sutherland / NHPR

A proposal to transfer jurisdiction of the state's only secure psychiatric unit to the Department of Health and Human Services went before lawmakers today.

For decades New Hampshire's secure psychiatric unit, or SPU, has been at the state prison. That means some patients who need secure treatment, but have committed no crime, have to get help behind prison walls.

New data shows a widespread shortage in health care workers across New Hampshire.

The data, released by the public health advocacy group New Futures, shows that across the state's 10 community mental health centers there are more than 200 open positions. That's an increase in vacancies of more than 20 percent over the past two years.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

An effort to undo a new work-requirement in the state's Medicaid expansion program went before lawmakers today.

The work requirement was part of a bipartisan compromise that re-authorized expanded Medicaid last session.

Starting next month some Medicaid Expansion recipients will need to complete 100 hours of work or volunteer work each month or risk losing their health coverage.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

An effort to fund new public health positions like a state toxicologist and a water quality analyst went before a Senate committee Tuesday.

The idea for the positions comes from the recommendations of two legislative commissions. One was set up to investigate a pediatric cancer cluster on the Seacoast. The other investigated environmentally triggered diseases more broadly.

Allison Quantz

State health officials are warning that New Hampshire is in the early stages of a Hepatitis A outbreak.

Thirteen people across southern New Hampshire have become infected by the virus over the past three months. That's already more cases than in the average year.

Hepatitis A is transmitted by ingesting small undetected amounts of stool from an infected person.

Jason Moon / NHPR

Law enforcement officials and the families of murder victims testified on behalf of a bill that would expand the state's cold case unit Tuesday morning.

Attorney General Gordon MacDonald told the Senate Judiciary Committee that the federal money that helped launch the Cold Case Unit back in 2009 has run out and that dozens of investigations have suffered as a result.

Two of the state's largest hospitals are hoping to combine forces in a new healthcare network.

Dartmouth-Hitchcock and GraniteOne Health, an existing group that includes Catholic Medical Center, signed a letter of intent Thursday to combine under a new entity called Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health GraniteOne.

NHPR Photo

The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services released the final version of the state's 10-year mental health plan. It outlines several steps, including action on the practice of boarding mental patients in emergency rooms when there is no immediate room at New Hampshire Hospital.

NHPR's Jason Moon discussed the report with All Things Considered Host Peter Biello.

The Department of Health and Human Services has released the final version of a new 10-year plan for improving mental health services in the state. The plan, which gathered public input over a series of meetings last fall, calls for immediate action on a number of fronts, including the boarding of mental patients in emergency rooms and the state’s increasing suicide rate.

NHPR File Photo

A new bill would prohibit the use of non-disclosure agreements in legal settlements involving public agencies or employees.

The bill's sponsor, Democratic Representative Paul Berch, says people who bring suits against local or state government shouldn't be barred from speaking publicly about the dispute after a settlement.

The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services has launched a new online crowdsourcing project with the goal of mapping every stone wall in the state.

The project is built around an online LiDAR map. 

Department of Human Health and Services

An attorney representing the families of two children in litigation against DCYF says a new report from the Office of the Child Advocate doesn't go far enough.

Rus Rilee represents the families of Brielle Gage and Sadee Willott, two toddlers who were killed by abusive mothers in separate incidents in 2014 and 2015. In both cases, abuse had been reported to the state's Division for Children Youth and Families.

Dan Tuohy / NHPR

The Office of Child Advocate is calling for additional caseworkers and additional training at the Division of Children, Youth and Families. That was one of many recommendations from the OCA in its first annual report released Monday.

The Office of Child Advocate was created about a year ago in the wake of the deaths of two children at the hands of abusive parents. The deaths occurred despite the fact that both cases had been reported to DCYF.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

A new report from the left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities argues the rollout of New Hampshire's work requirement for expanded Medicaid beneficiaries is doomed to the same problems that have hampered a similar policy in Arkansas.

Jason Moon / NHPR

A new state advisory council on opioid overprescribing will use data analysis to better understand the state's opioid crisis.

Governor Chris Sununu signed an executive order creating the New Hampshire Opioid Overprescribing and Misuse Project Advisory Council Thursday afternoon. 

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

The Executive Council has approved a $4.4 million contract to fund a new behavioral health crisis treatment center.

The contract, awarded to Riverbend Community Health, will fund a 24/7 crisis center in Concord. It will provide short-term treatment to stabilize patients before connecting them with community mental health resources.

Riverbend CEO Peter Evers says the center will be an alternative to emergency rooms for first responders dropping off someone in a mental health crisis.

PublicDomainPictures.net

The New Hampshire Hospital Association has moved to intervene in a lawsuit against the state brought by the ACLU-NH.

The lawsuit addresses the current practice of emergency room boarding, where patients who are involuntarily committed for acute psychiatric treatment are sometimes held for weeks in emergency rooms without a probable cause hearing.

Manchester Superintendent Bolgen Vargas has abruptly resigned from his job leading the state’s largest school district.

In his resignation letter, Superintendent Vargas said only that “personal and professional” reasons were behind the move.

But some Manchester school board members, including Richard Girard, said a culture of constant bickering within their own ranks likely played a role in Vargas’ decision.

“There are all kinds of these petty little battles that just sap your will to live, let alone be a superintendent to schools,” said Girard.

Dan Tuohy/NHPR

State lawmakers are pushing back against changes made by the Trump administration to a new work requirement in the state’s expanded Medicaid program.

Members of the committee that oversees administrative rules unanimously objected to the changes the Trump administration introduced when it approved the work requirement for Medicaid expansion last month.

With just days remaining in the open enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act’s individual marketplace, public officials are encouraging people to sign up before it’s too late.

Open enrollment ends this Saturday, Dec. 15.

So far, enrollments have been down about 20 percent in New Hampshire compared to last year. State Insurance Department Commissioner John Elias says there are several factors behind that trend, including a reduction in the federal budget for public outreach.

Jason Moon for NHPR

Today Governor Chris Sununu and Executive Councilors heard testimony in a rare pardon hearing. 

The request for a pardon came from Joe Barton, who was convicted of resisting arrest during an incident at a Newmarket polling place during the 2014 general election.

Barton says he didn’t know that the person trying to arrest him was a police officer.

Barton was chairman of the Newmarket Republican Committee at the time. During his hearing Monday, he accused the arresting officer of having political motivations.

The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has approved a request by the state of New Hampshire to implement a work requirement for some Medicaid recipients in the state.

The new rules will require certain Medicaid recipients to log at least 100 hours a month in qualifying activities, including but not limited to holding a job, going to school, or participating in community service.

Certain populations, like people participating in a drug court program, or the parent of a dependent child with a disability, are exempted from the work requirement.

Mothers' Milk Bank

The state’s first donor breast milk dispensary is scheduled to open at the Belmont Medical Center next week.

The new donor milk dispensary will operate like a pharmacy for mothers and babies who have a donor milk prescription.

Naomi Bar-Yam is executive director of Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast, which is partnering with LRGHealthcare to launch the dispensary. She says while donor milk is currently available at hospitals and by direct mail, the dispensary will address the need for mothers who need donor milk on short notice.

iStock Photo

New Hampshire is on track to sign up about 20 percent fewer people under the Affordable Care Act during this year’s enrollment period.

Open enrollment for the New Hampshire ACA marketplace is still open – through December 15. So far about 11,400 people have signed up for health insurance plans. That compares to about 15,000 at the same point last year.

Nationally, sign-ups are down about 13 percent.

Allison Quantz for NHPR

A new program looks to pair Dartmouth medical students as mentors with LGBTQ youth in the Upper Valley.

Qmmunity is a collaboration between the Dartmouth Geisel School of Medicine and the group Rural Outright.

It’s based on the idea that young people with differing sexual orientations and identities who are living in rural areas face extra challenges to their mental health and well-being.

Matt Mooshian with Rural Outright says pairing up with a Dartmouth med student will give the teens support and a positive role model.

NHPR Photo

The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services has unveiled a draft version of a new 10-year plan for improving mental health services.

The 10-year plan is a roadmap for the reforms needed to strengthen the state’s mental health infrastructure.

In recent years, one of the most pressing issues has been a shortage of beds at in-patient mental health facilities.

NHPR

State officials say they are working to address the issues behind a recent lawsuit filed by the New Hampshire ACLU.

The federal suit alleges that mental health patients in New Hampshire are routinely denied their constitutional rights by being detained in emergency rooms without a hearing, what is called ER boarding.

The New Hampshire ACLU is filing a federal lawsuit against the Northwood Police Department for what they say was an illegal immigration stop based on racial profiling. 

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