Health

Brought to you in part by: Dartmouth-Hitchcock

Sara Plourde / NHPR

As a new work requirement for beneficiaries of New Hampshire’s expanded Medicaid program takes effect this month, some in the healthcare industry say early signs are pointing to a bumpy road ahead.

Ali Oshinskie / NHPR

Mental health care providers are reacting to Governor Chris Sununu's veto of a bill that would have provided new money for mental health services in the state.

The bill, backed mostly by Democrats, would have spent $3.5 million to raise the rates that Medicaid pays out for mental health services and substance use disorder treatments.

The N.H. Department of Health and Human Services is reminding cities and towns that CBD is not approved for use in food products. In a written statement, the department says, per FDA regulations:

“CBD is not a permitted additive in the state. This guidance has also been issued to self-inspecting municipalities to follow those regulations.”

Geoffroy Van Der Hasselt/AFP/Getty Images)

The city of Rochester is telling businesses they can no longer sell edible forms of CBD -- another sign that regulations around the cannabidiol chemical remain unclear even as it grows in popularity.

The decision came following a review of FDA food service regulations by city officials.

[CBD is Budding in Popularity. But What Is The Cannabis Extract, Exactly?]

Wentworth-Douglass Hospital

Two Seacoast hospitals have signed an agreement to become part of the Massachusetts General Hospital network.

Exeter Hospital and Wentworth-Douglass Hospital in Dover say the move will help them make investments that they can't currently afford as standalone organizations.

The proposed merger is subject to review by state and federal regulators. Public meetings will also be held as a part of the review process.

The news comes just months after another proposed hospital affiliation was announced, between Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center and Catholic Medical Center.

Dan Tuohy / NHPR

Governor Chris Sununu wants New Hampshire's congressional delegation to change a Medicaid rule that covers how services for people with developmental disabilities are provided.

The rule is designed to eliminate conflicts of interest. It requires that agencies which provide case management and direct services for people with developmental disabilities cannot provide both to the same people under Medicaid.

Sara Ernst

Nashua Drug Court held a ceremony on Thursday for four new graduates of its program to help those struggling with addiction. The program aims to reduce recidivism and harsh jail time with the alternative of rigorous drug rehabilitation.

Senator Maggie Hassan was one of a group of bipartisan lawmakers who introduced a bill on Thursday designed to stop surprise medical billing.

The plan would set up an arbitration process where medical providers and insurers could work out who pays for an out-of-network visit without involving the patient.

“That's really the key part of our legislation,” said Hassan at a press conference in Washington, D.C., “taking the patient out of these payment disputes between plans and providers.”

Dan Tuohy / NHPR

Senate Democrats are urging Governor Chris Sununu and Attorney General Gordon MacDonald to join 44 other states in a lawsuit against makers of generic drugs.

The lawsuit, which could be the largest of its kind in American history, alleges that makers of generic drugs have been conspiring for years to artificially inflate prices.

New Hampshire is one of just six states that hasn't signed on to the suit, though the state did join an earlier lawsuit that came out of the same investigation.

NHPR Photo

The New Hampshire Attorney General's Office says it is still deciding whether to join a lawsuit filed by 44 other states alleging a massive price-fixing scheme by generic drug makers.

Dan Tuohy / NHPR

New Hampshire's Child Advocate says the Department of Corrections and the Division for Children, Youth and Families could do more to protect children from the negative experiences of having their parent incarcerated.

Studies show when a parent goes to jail, it can have long-term mental and emotional impacts on their children.

One way to mitigate that is to maintain a relationship through visitation or regular communication between the parent and child. At the state prison, a Family Connection Center is supposed to facilitate that connection.

Jason Moon / NHPR

A group of medical providers, patients, and lawmakers gathered in front of the State House Monday in support of a bill designed to address a shortage of health care workers in New Hampshire.

The coalition is backing a bill currently in the Senate that would add state money to health care training programs, increase Medicaid reimbursement rates, and streamline the background check process for health care workers, among other things.

NHPR File Photo

A federal judge has granted the state of New Hampshire's request to intervene in a lawsuit over a new Medicaid work requirement.

Last month, a group of low-income New Hampshire residents sued the Trump administration for granting New Hampshire a waiver that allowed the state to implement the work requirement. 

More than 80 local police departments and pharmacies across New Hampshire are set to participate in National prescription drug take back day on Saturday.

The drop-off locations will accept any expired or unused prescription drugs, but officials like John McGough with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services say they are most interested in getting rid of prescription opioids.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

The state Senate Thursday passed a bill restricting access to vaping devices for minors in New Hampshire.

The bill would add vaping devices like e-cigarettes and e-liquid to the existing law that makes it illegal for people under the age of 18 to buy cigarettes.

Courtesy Dartmouth-Hitchcock

Lawmakers at the State House heard testimony on a bill Wednesday that would pave the way for an expansion of telemedicine in New Hampshire.

Senate bill 258 would add primary care physicians and pediatricians to the list of doctors in New Hampshire who can bill Medicaid and private insurers for telemedicine.

CDC.gov

In an effort to halt an ongoing hepatitis A outbreak, health clinics in Manchester, Nashua, Somersworth, and Concord are offering free vaccines to people without health insurance.

Dan Tuohy / NHPR

  

A bill to add 77 new positions at the Department for Children, Youth and Families received unanimous approval from a committee of House lawmakers Tuesday.

 

The vote comes a day after a legislative Advisory Board for DCYF put its support behind the bill.

 

Department of Health and Human Services

New Hampshire health officials are warning that a recent outbreak of hepatitis A in the state is accelerating.

The Department of Health and Human Services first announced the outbreak in February, when 13 people had been infected since last November.

Now, DHHS says that number has jumped to 79, including one person who has died. The average number of cases over an entire year in New Hampshire is seven.

Courtesy Catholic Medical Center

Catholic Medical Center, one of the largest hospitals in New Hampshire, has announced plans for a major expansion of its Manchester facilities.

CMC announced Tuesday it wants to add 220,000 square feet and increase its overall capacity from 266 to 330 beds.

CMC spokesperson Lauren Collins-Cline says the plan is driven by increasing demand and that on most days the hospital operates at or near capacity.

“The house is full as we like to say. We've been essentially at capacity most days for quite some time.”

Department of Human Health and Services

The New Hampshire Division for Children Youth and Families advisory board is putting its weight behind a proposal to add dozens of new positions at the agency.

High caseloads have long plagued the state agency that investigates allegations of child abuse and neglect. Right now the average caseworker at DCYF is juggling 45 cases at once, while the nationally recommended average is 12.

As state lawmakers and the governor debate the state budget, a handful of proposals have been put forward to address the staffing shortage.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Lawmakers in the New Hampshire House heard testimony Wednesday on a bill that would roll back some elements of a controversial new Medicaid work requirement.

The new work requirement, set to fully kick in this summer, will require some people who get their health insurance through expanded Medicaid to complete 100 hours of qualifying activities each month or risk losing that coverage.

Dan Tuohy / NHPR

 

Case workers from the New Hampshire Division for Children Youth and Families went before lawmakers Tuesday to ask for additional staff to keep up with a growing number of child abuse reports.

 

Caseworkers at DCYF, the state agency that investigates allegations of child abuse, currently juggle an average of around 45 cases each. The nationally recommended level is 12 cases.

A new database released Tuesday offers a detailed look at the health of aging adults in New Hampshire.

The report, funded by the Tufts Health Plan Foundation, provides town-level data on 166 different health indicators for adults over 60 in New Hampshire.

DHMC

A new art exhibit opening April 1st at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center focuses on the faces of people living with mental illness.

The exhibit, called The 99 Faces Project, features life-size portraits of 33 people living with bipolar disorder, 33 people living with schizophrenia, and 33 people who love and support them.

Dartmouth-Hitchcock arts program director Marianne Barthel says the artist Lynda Michaud Cutrell wanted to challenge assumptions about what mental illness looks like.

Dan Tuohy

The future of New Hampshire's Medicaid work requirement may be in doubt following a federal court decision that struck down similar work requirements in Arkansas and Kentucky.

In a ruling released Wednesday afternoon, a judge in the federal District Court of Washington D.C. called the decision by the Trump administration to allow the work requirements to go forward in those states “arbitrary and capricious.” 

Paige Sutherland for NHPR

The state Office of Child Advocate has announced it is currently reviewing how the Department for Children Youth and Families handles cases of infants born exposed to drugs.

The Office of the Child Advocate says it opened the review in December of last year after it received concerns about how DCYF was handling the cases. In two cases in 2018 infants, died after DCYF closed assessments for neglect as unfounded.

Statewide, the state Child Advocate says there were 466 children involved in DCYF cases where there were indications that the child was born exposed to drugs.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Right now, around 50,000 people in New Hampshire get their health insurance through expanded Medicaid. As a creation of the Affordable Care Act, the program is designed to cover people who make too much money to qualify for traditional Medicaid, but not enough to afford private health insurance.

Beginning later this year, for some of those 50,000 people, there is a new string attached to that health insurance: a requirement they work at least 100 hours each month.

Jason Moon / NHPR

Earlier this month, a group of police officers, firefighters, and paramedics became the first in New Hampshire to complete an intensive course on how to react to people in mental health crisis. It brought together people with firsthand experience from both sides of that interaction.

Steve Smithe via Flickr

Multiple news agencies are reporting that drug company Purdue Pharma, maker of OxyContin, is considering filing for bankruptcy. That could affect lawsuits against the drug maker here in New Hampshire.

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