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Granite State Rumblings: Medicaid Expansion Helps Former Foster Kids Receive Healthcare Till Age 26

obamacare Approved

As a former foster parent I was thrilled that when the Affordable Care Act was signed into law in March 2010 it contained a provision to expand Medicaid coverage to former foster children up to age 26. Here’s what the law states:

Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) Section 2004:
Medicaid Coverage for Former Foster Care Children

Beginning in 2014, states must provide Medicaid coverage for individuals under age 26 who were in foster care at age 18 and receiving Medicaid. Consistent with this rule, youth are eligible for Medicaid if they:

  • Are under age 26;
  • Are not eligible for and enrolled in mandatory Medicaid coverage; and
  • Were in foster care under the state’s or tribe’s responsibility and also enrolled in Medicaid under the state’s Medicaid state plan or 1115 demonstration (or at state option were in foster care and Medicaid in any state rather than “the” state where the individual is now residing and applying for Medicaid) at age 18 or older if the state’s federal foster care assistance under title IV-E continued beyond that age.

First Focus released a new SPARC brief last week Former Foster Youth: An Update on the State Option and State Efforts to Ensure Coverage for All Young People Irrespective of Where They Aged Out of Care. This policy brief provides an overview of the new mandatory Medicaid coverage for former foster youth under the ACA, highlighting relevant Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) regulatory activity to date and additional concerns regarding the “state option,” summarizes state progress in taking up this option to provide coverage for former foster youth, irrespective of where they aged out of care, and makes recommendations for what more should be done to ensure access to coverage for every young person aging out of care.

Here are a few excerpts from that brief.

Why Health Coverage Matters

The expansion of Medicaid to cover youth previously in foster care to age 26 is a significant victory for this population because it provides access to critical health coverage for an especially vulnerable group of young adults. Children who have been abused or neglected often experience a range of physical and mental health needs, physical disabilities and developmental delays, far greater than other high-risk populations. For example, foster children are more likely than other children who receive health coverage through Medicaid to experience emotional and psychological disorders and have more chronic medical problems. Research suggests that nearly 60 percent of children in foster care experience a chronic medical condition, and one-quarter suffer from three or more chronic health conditions. Roughly 35 percent have significant oral health problems. In addition, nearly 70 percent of children in foster care exhibit moderate to severe mental health problems, and 40 to 60 percent are diagnosed with at least one psychiatric disorder.

Not surprisingly, youth aging out of foster care continue to experience poor health outcomes into adulthood, including high rates of drug and alcohol use, unplanned pregnancies and poor mental health outcomes. More than half of former foster youth report being uninsured, and more than one-fifth report unmet needs for medical care. Findings from the Midwest Study highlight that one-third of youth aging out reported two or more emergency room visits in past year, 22 percent were hospitalized at least once, 43 percent were uninsured, fewer than half had dental insurance, three-quarters of young women had been pregnant, and 19 percent received mental or behavioral health care in the past year.

Given that former foster youth have well-documented and often significant health care needs, these young people should be eligible for Medicaid coverage in any state, and once enrolled, should be able to retain their coverage irrespective of changes in residency.

Regulatory Guidance to Date on the ACA Provision for Former Foster Youth

In early 2013, CMS issued a number of documents to clarify how states should implement the new provision. On January 22, 2013, CMS issued a proposed rule in the Federal Register, which clarified CMS’s interpretation that a youth is only eligible for Medicaid coverage in the same state in which he or she was in foster care at age 18 and enrolled in Medicaid. While CMS gave states the option to cover youth under this group who were in foster care and Medicaid in any state at the relevant point in time, it did not require that they do so.

On July 15, 2013 CMS published the final rule, clarifying several outstanding issues, including that the new eligibility category of former foster youth are eligible for full Medicaid benefits including Early, Periodic, Screening, Diagnosis, and Treatment (EPSDT) up to age 21. On December 31, 2013, CMS issued a FAQ that clarified that it would approve state plan amendments8 to cover youth who were in foster care and receiving Medicaid when they turned 18 or aged out of foster care in another state – meaning that states could receive federal reimbursement for out-of-state foster youth if they choose to enroll them in Medicaid.

More recently, on August 24, 2014, CMS posted a State Highlights feature on Medicaid.gov focusing on the provision to enable former foster youth to keep their Medicaid coverage, and highlighting efforts in Idaho and Georgia to reach out to and enroll young people who have aged out of care.  It is noteworthy that CMS chose to highlight this provision and demonstrates that it is tracking implementation progress in states.

To date, only 12 states have taken up the option to extend coverage to youth who aged out in another state:

  • California
  • Georgia
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Montana
  • New York
  • Pennsylvania
  • South Dakota
  • Wisconsin
  • Virginia (pending state plan amendment)

Unfortunately, with a majority of states opting to not cover youth aging out in other states, many young people will be left without essential medical coverage.

The expansion of Medicaid to cover youth previously in foster care to age 26 is a significant victory for this population. One of the most popular parts of health reform is coverage for kids up to age 26 on their parents’ insurance plan. This new mandatory coverage for former foster youth has the potential to provide equal treatment in cases where the state steps in to care for children removed from the home as a result of abuse or neglect. It is critical that we remove any barriers to coverage for young people aging out of care, and that includes removing the eligibility restriction tied to residency.

While we hope that both Congress and CMS will consider taking steps to resolve this concern, it is also critical that state advocates, policymakers and other stakeholders continue to work to push states to take up the option to cover all former foster youth residing in their state.

GROWING UP GRANITE

Last week the Census Bureau released the Supplemental Poverty Measure for 2013.  The SPM extends the official poverty measure by taking account of many of the government programs designed to assist low-income families and individuals that are not included in the current official poverty measure.

Our friends at the NH Fiscal Policy Institute delve into the Census Bureau release in their new Common Cents blogpost and find that the New Hampshire poverty rate increases with the Supplemental Measure:

Ask any scientist or researcher and they’ll tell you: measurement matters. While one might commonly think of a biologist or an astronomer calibrating instruments to arrive at more accurate observations, that truth extends to the social sciences as well, where better, more robust measures can yield new insights into economic conditions.

For instance, a more comprehensive measure of poverty – known as the Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM) – demonstrates that New Hampshire’s poverty rate is much higher than typically thought. New SPM data released last week by the US Census Bureau indicate that New Hampshire’s poverty rate for the 2011-2013 period was 10.5 percent, 2.2 percentage points higher than the rate under the traditional, official poverty measure for that time frame. It also suggests that approximately 138,000 Granite Staters lived in poverty during that period, an increase of roughly 29,000 people or nearly 27 percent over the number living in poverty under the traditional measure.

Economists and other experts have long understood that that official measure of poverty suffers from significant shortcomings. It both fails to account properly for all of the costs people face and neglects the fact that certain parts of the country can be far pricier than others. The SPM attempts to address these fundamental flaws and to assess more precisely the resources available within families to meet basic needs, counting not just income, but the cash value of benefits like nutrition assistance or housing subsidies.

These adjustments have a distinct impact in New Hampshire, which was one of just 13 states where the poverty rate was higher under the SPM than under the official measure. In contrast, some 26 states enjoyed lower poverty rates under the SPM, while, in the remaining 11, there was no statistically meaningful difference between the two measures. The reasons for the differences among the states are uncertain, given the data available from the Census Bureau, but the agency’s analysis of national level data reveal that out-of-pocket medical expenditures as well as work expenses can drive up poverty rates under the SPM. It may also be telling that many of the 13 states with heightened rates are concentrated in the Northeast, which tends to have a higher overall cost of living.

The latest Supplemental Poverty Measure data, when combined with traditionally measured poverty rates that are still higher than pre-recession levels in New Hampshire, suggests that much remains to be done to ensure greater economic security for all Granite Staters.

Working Class Solidarity is the Key to Health Care Becoming a Human Right

ppfmember1

ppfmember1

Written by Sean Kitchen
for the Raging Chicken Press

Just before the start of the 2014 NFL season, Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Devon Still was cut from the team’s main roster.  In the offseason,  Still’s daughter was diagnosed with cancer causing him to miss off-season practices and mini-camps which then affected his performance during training camp.  In an act of charity and kindness, the Bengals front-office decided to place Still on the practice squad, which would allow Still to pay his daughter’s treatments.

Unfortunately, if Devon Still wasn’t granted this opportunity – or the opportunity to be a professional athlete, Still could possibly be facing what many working class Pennsylvanians are facing; full-time employment with no access to private health care, and that is why working class solidarity is the key for health care becoming a human right.

According to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services in some of Pennsylvania’s largest counties, the percentage of uninsured residents on the county level range between 10 and 16 percent.  Of those who are uninsured, over three-quarters of those have at least one family member with a full-time job.  This means that 438,000 of the 600,000 uninsured people in Allegheny, Berks, Dauphin, Lackawanna, Lancaster, Lehigh, Luzerne, Philadelphia and York counties have at least one family member with a full-time job! Clearly having a job is no guarantee that your family will have access to care.

Of those 10 counties, the most unequal counties are York, Berks and Lancaster counties.  In York, 42,227 people are uninsured and of those uninsured, 80.5 percent, or 34,000 people, have at least one family member with a full-time job.  The same is true for Berks county, where 39,000 people are without insurance and 81.4 percent, or 31,600 people, have a family member with a full-time job.  Lastly, Lancaster county has 73,500 people without insurance and 84.9 percent, or 62,500 people, have a family member with a full-time job.

 The Devon Still story is a prime example of how having access to health care is essentially an act of charity within the employer, employee dynamic, and unfortunately, for hundreds of thousands of working class Pennsylvanian’s who have full-time jobs there is no charity nor access to health care.  Within the ten counties listed above, 438,000 of 600,000 Pennsylvanians have no access to health care coverage even though they are a productive member of society.  This goes against the conventional wisdom that those who need a hand up in today’s society are lazy and unproductive, and if we are to break down that conventional wisdom and make health care a human right – not about coverage, but about care –  we must break the rural urban divide by reaching out to and build solidarity amongst working class Pennsylvanians.

Garcia’s Party Line Opposition To The ACA Leaves Unanswered Questions About Her Health Insurance

obamacare-playbook

obamacare-playbookMarilinda Garcia, the Republican candidate for Congress in the Second District, says she’s adamantly opposed to the Affordable Care Act. But how is she getting her healthcare?

Garcia seemed to be stumped when a NHPR reporter question her about her own healthcare. He asked if she got healthcare through the Affordable Care Act exchange.

Garcia: “I… that’s my own issue.”
NHPR: “So you don’t want to say?”
Garcia: “No that’s fine, I don’t need to share everything.” 

NHPR: “Is it fair to say you are not getting your health care through Obamacare, through the (federal) exchange?”
Garcia: “I don’t need to talk about that. Thank you.”

This entire exchange completely puzzles me. This is a very simple question, asked of someone who has put herself in the public arena by running for a high-level federal office.

It should have been really easy for Garcia to answer – unless Garcia she’s trying to hide the truth. Did she have healthcare insurance at all before this interview? If she had insurance before, where was she getting her insurance from?

If someone were to ask me if I get healthcare from the ACA, the answer would be, “No, I get my health insurance through my employer.” Since Marilinda was nice enough to inform us that she only has a part time job giving harp lessons, we can be pretty sure she is not getting healthcare from her employer.

Garcia’s campaign was also nice enough to tell us that Garcia is in her early 30s and is still living at home with her parents. It is too bad she is not under 26 because then she could have stayed on her parents’ healthcare plan. (How old is her sister Bianca? I wonder if she is still their parents’ healthcare plan.)

Garcia is trying, and failing, to get people to believe that – at least during this campaign – she is buying insurance from a private company on a month-to-month basis, without going through the ACA exchange in any way. Even though her campaign admits she is eligible to use the ACA exchange.

I wonder how much Garcia’s monthly insurance costs?

Marilinda Garcia (Gage Skidmore CC FLIKR)I also wonder how a harp teacher who only works part time can afford to purchase an individual policy directly from the insurer on a month-to-month basis. I can’t think of a more expensive way to buy insurance. Even the lowest-rated plans (with high deductibles and high out-of-pocket limits) cost about $350 a month.

Of course, if Marilinda gets elected, she will undoubtedly sign up for the federal healthcare plan, while she collects that $174,000-a-year Congressional paycheck.

“I want to represent those who have seen their situation go beyond the bounds of what they expected” when the law was implemented, Garcia told the Union Leader. “People were told they could keep their doctor. People were told they could keep their plans if they liked them. All of that was false.”

It’s easy for Garcia to spout negatives and toss around blame. In fact, Republicans in the US House of Representatives put together a step-by-step instruction manual on exactly how to do that. Read the House Republican Playbook here, and then try to figure out if Garcia is saying anything that wasn’t pre-scripted for her.

(Then, maybe you’ll want to consider whether scripting political attacks is a very good use of Congressional funds.)

I guess it is very easy for Garcia to blame Congresswoman Kuster and President Obama for passing healthcare reforms that have been in the works for decades. A healthcare plan that expanded access for millions of Americans. A healthcare plan that lowered premiums for tens of thousands of Granite Staters while mandating better coverage.

What happened to the “old plans” that Garcia is so nostalgic for? Those canceled policies didn’t meet the ACA’s minimum standards for health insurance. But instead of changing the policies to meet the requirements, insurers across the nation just canceled them.

Except here in New Hampshire. Here in the Granite State, Anthem is still renewing those out-of-compliance health care plans.

What happened to limit coverage? That’s private market forces at work. If you’ve been following New Hampshire health insurance for a while, maybe you remember Anthem’s contract dispute with Exeter Hospital and Core Physicians?

Anthem was not willing to negotiate or mediate, and in order to ensure uninterrupted access to high quality, local care for more than 20,000 patients who utilize the services of Exeter Hospital and Core Physicians, we had no choice but to accept Anthem’s demand for more favorable reimbursement rates.

“Although the $10 million in concessions Anthem has demanded will have a negative impact on the health care resources available to this community, we will strive to provide the very best health care services to the tens of thousands of patients we care for every year,” says Kevin Callahan, President and Chief Executive Officer.

Aren’t Republicans supposed to be in favor of market forces? But Garcia doesn’t the practical effects? (This sort of thing wouldn’t happen with Single-Payer.)

Or maybe Garcia finds it more provocative to blame the President and the incumbent Congresswoman, rather than Anthem corporate executives.

WellPoint is known as a company that lavishes money and stock on its CEOs. Braly’s predecessor, Larry Glasscock, once pulled down total disclosed annual compensation of almost $50 million. Most of that rich outlay was a stock and cash award, payable over three years, given after he ­orchestrated the 2004 merger of Anthem and WellPoint.

“Tea Party extremist Marilinda Garcia signed the Koch Brothers pledge calling to take away health care from tens of thousands of Granite State families, but refuses to say where she receives her own coverage,” said New Hampshire Democratic Party Deputy Communications Director Bryan Lesswing. “If Marilinda Garcia is going to make denying health coverage to hard-working Granite Staters a central part of her campaign, then voters deserve to know what she is hiding when it comes to her own health care.”

 

Rep Annie Kuster Lays Out Her Agenda For Working Americans (VIDEO)

Annie Kuster

Annie KusterRecently she spoke at the NH AFL-CIO Labor Day breakfast where Congresswoman Annie Kuster laid out her agenda for rebuilding the middle class and helping all working families.

You can see her full 5 minute speech just below, but I will give you a couple of highlights.

  • Raising the federal minimum wage.
  • Protecting workers rights, including attacks against the National Labor Relations Board.
  • Protecting collective bargaining rights.
  • Fought against federal Right to Work for less legislation.
  • Ensuring access to healthcare for all Americans.
  • Increasing funding for schools, and community & technical colleges.
  • Increasing manufacturing right here at home.

We need more people like Annie in Washington who are working to get things done, not just create more gridlock.

Shaheen Breaks Gridlock To Help New Hampshire Veterans (VIDEO)

Screen shot 2014-08-06 at 9.46.52 AM

Jeanne Shaheen Worked With Republicans For New Law
So New Hampshire Veterans Can Get Health Care Close To Home
Jeanne Shaheen Is Making A Difference For New Hampshire

Manchester, NH – Congressional approval of a major veterans reform bill that allows New Hampshire veterans to get health care close to home is the subject of the new television ad from Jeanne Shaheen’s campaign, “Breakthrough.” New Hampshire Senator Jeanne Shaheen, along with Republican Senator Kelly Ayotte, introduced and fought for the language in the bill that allows New Hampshire veterans to get health care outside the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

New Hampshire veterans in need of health care will no longer have to travel hours for treatment at one of the VA hospitals in Boston or White River Junction in Vermont, and instead will have the option of receiving their care locally from a non-VA provider.

“Jeanne Shaheen is a tireless fighter for New Hampshire veterans and she gets things done for us. This has been a long time coming; she helped break the gridlock in Washington to deliver a tremendous victory for New Hampshire veterans,” said Barry Conway of Hampton, Airman First Class, US Air Force, Commandant of the New Hampshire Veterans Home and Chair Emeritus of the State Veterans Advisory Committee. Conway is a member of the Veterans for Shaheen Leadership Committee.

Language Senator Shaheen had included in the Veterans’ Access to Care Through Choice, Accountability, and Transparency Act – also known as Sanders-McCain – would allow veterans in New Hampshire to receive health care services from certain non-VA medical facilities if they live more than twenty miles from the nearest full service VA hospital, because New Hampshire doesn’t have a full service VA hospital.  The bill passed the U.S House of Representatives, and U.S. Senate, last week.

“This is something that people promised us for years but Jeanne Shaheen delivered,” says George Fleming of Barrington, a USMC and Vietnam Veteran, in the ad. “It’s going to make a world of difference. She gets the job done for New Hampshire.”

“Being able to get health care outside the VA is a huge step for veterans,” adds Charlie Mooskian of Pelham, US Navy veteran and Past Commander of VFW District 6.

Jeanne Shaheen is a tireless advocate for keeping our nation’s commitment to veterans. The first piece of legislation she introduced when she got to the U.S. Senate was the bipartisan Veterans Health Equity Act to improve VA care in New Hampshire by opening a full service hospital or providing New Hampshire’s veterans with an equivalent level of health services.  She has introduced legislation to encourage companies to hire veterans and supported 2011 legislation that provided tax credits to businesses that hired unemployed veterans.  She broke through years of red tape to get veterans clinics and health centers open in Manchester and Keene with two more on the way in Berlin, and Colebrook.

Ayotte, Brown, Guinta, Garcia Call for Massive 74% Health Care Tax Hike on Granite State Working Families

Senator Kelly Ayotte Official Portrait

GOP Politicians Vow to Push a Massive 74% Tax Hike for Tens of Thousands of Granite Staters Already Using Affordable Care Act Tax Credit

Concord, NH – In light of one of yesterday’s court rulings, U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte, U.S. Senate candidate Scott Brown, and Congressional candidates Frank Guinta (CD1) and Marilinda Garcia (CD2) vowed to push for a massive 74% health care tax hike on the 31,000 Granite Staters already using Affordable Care Act tax credits. Up to 48,000 Granite Staters overall are eligible for the subsidy.

“Senator Ayotte, Scott Brown, Frank Guinta, and Marilinda Garcia want to repeal the health care tax credit for working families and raise health care premium costs by a whopping 74 percent,” said Zandra Rice Hawkins, executive director of Granite State Progress. “If these politicians had their way, more than 30,000 Granite Staters would see their premiums rise by an average of $3,480 annually. That’s even before addressing the fact that these same politicians would take away free preventative care check-ups and young adult coverage up to age 26 as part of their extreme ideological opposition to health care reform.”

The ruling trumpeted by Ayotte, Brown, Guinta, and Garcia – all Republicans – would raise costs on average $3,480 for Granite Staters who use the Affordable Care Act subsidy to afford quality health care coverage. Already, 31,000 Granite Staters use the health care tax credit; overall 48,000 are eligible to do so.

“This wouldn’t even be an issue if New Hampshire Republicans hadn’t blocked a state-based exchange out of political spite. New Hampshire would have been able to craft its own exchange, manage the enrollment process, and conduct public education to inform residents about their health care options. We wouldn’t be facing any concerns over the tax credit now,” Rice Hawkins said.

Conservatives are celebrating a federal district court ruling in Washington, D.C. yesterday that would take away health care tax credits from families and small businesses that live in states where conservative Republicans blocked a state-based exchange. It is questionable whether the district court ruling will be upheld though; the ruling was made by a majority conservative 3-judge panel and may be overturned by the full DC Circuit en banc panel, especially in light of a separate, unanimous ruling yesterday by the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals that upholds the subsidies. The Obama Administration has indicated tax credits will continue until a final determination is made.

###

Sources:

Kaiser Family Foundation. A State-by-State Look at How the Uninsured Fare Under ACA. Accessed 7.22.14 http://kff.org/interactive/uninsured-gap/

Department of Health and Human Services, ASPE Research Brief: Profile of Affordable Care Act Coverage Expansion Enrollment for Medicaid/CHIP and the Health Insurance Marketplace, 10-2-2013 to 3-31-2014. April 2014. http://aspe.hhs.gov/health/reports/2014/MarketPlaceEnrollment/Apr2014/pdf/nh.pdf

Department of Health and Human Services, ASPE Research Brief: Premium Affordability, Competition, and Choice in the Health Insurance Marketplace, 2014. June 2014. http://aspe.hhs.gov/health/reports/2014/Premiums/2014MktPlacePremBrf.pdf

 

Jeanne Shaheen Is Making A Difference For New Hampshire Women

Jeanne Shaheen outside

Jeanne Shaheen outside

“Women deserve the right to make decisions about their health care.  These decisions should not be made by an employer, they shouldn’t be made by the government – they should be made by women.”
– Senator Jeanne Shaheen

For more than two decades, Jeanne Shaheen has worked to make a difference for women in New Hampshire.  She stands up for what she believes in, like equal pay for equal work and a woman’s right to make health care decisions independent of her employer or the government.

Jeanne is the first and only woman in the country elected to serve as both a Governor and U.S. Senator.

As our Governor, Jeanne Shaheen signed bipartisan legislation to protect women’s access to basic preventive health care.  In the Senate, Shaheen won bipartisan passage of the “Shaheen Amendment” to provide health care coverage for abortion to women in the military who are victims of rape, cosponsored and was a leader in reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act, and fought to protect funding for Planned Parenthood including access to birth control and cancer screenings.

ADVOCATING FOR WORKING WOMEN AND FAMILIES

Jeanne co-sponsored the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, a historic step toward workplace equality for women and signed pay equity legislation into law as Governor.  She has championed the Paycheck Fairness Act to ensure that women receive equal pay for equal work.  Existing pay inequities mean a woman and her family can lose more than $400,000 over the course of her career.  That is money that doesn’t go toward her owning a home, helping her children afford a college education, or providing economic security for her retirement.

Continuing on her work as Governor, Jeanne Shaheen is fighting to make childcare more affordable for working mothers.  In 1998, she established the Governor’s Business Commission on Child Care and Early Education.  In the Senate, she introduced the Helping Working Families Afford Child Care Act to increase the amount of eligible child care expenses used to calculate the tax credit that helps make child care more affordable.

Jeanne Shaheen understands the economic challenges New Hampshire families face as they struggle with the rising cost of childcare.  It can cost a New Hampshire family more than $11,000 per year for infant and toddler care.

PROTECTING WOMEN’S ACCESS TO HEALTH CARE

For more than two decades, Jeanne Shaheen has been fighting to expand affordable access to health services for New Hampshire women.  As New Hampshire’s Governor, she signed into law bipartisan legislation requiring insurance coverage for contraceptive services.  In the Senate, she has been an outspoken advocate for women’s reproductive rights and expanded access to basic contraception and family planning care with no out of pocket costs to 253,000 women in New Hampshire.

When the Executive Council waged a war on women’s access to health care, Jeanne Shaheen fought back. She urged the federal Health and Human Services Department to provide a direct federal contract with Planned Parenthood of Northern New England to restore these critical health services.

Jeanne Shaheen makes a difference for the more than 17,000 women in New Hampshire who count on Planned Parenthood for affordable access to basic health services like breast exams, birth control, and cancer screenings.

Jeanne Shaheen’s leadership gained passage of history-making legislation, known as the Shaheen Amendment. It ended more than 30 years of unequal treatment of women in the military and provides health insurance coverage for abortion for women serving in the military who are victims of rape or incest.

SUPPORTING WOMEN SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS

As a former owner and manager of small business, a governor, and a mother, Jeanne Shaheen knows the challenges New Hampshire’s small business owners face in balancing their budgets and meeting payroll.  This is why she is working hard to support women who own and operate New Hampshire small businesses.

Small business make up for more than 96% of all New Hampshire employers, and more than 25% of them are owned by women.  As member of the Senate Small Business Committee, Jeanne Shaheen authored bipartisan legislation so women owned small businesses would have a fair shot at federal contracts.  And she worked with the Small Business Administration to open the Center for Women’s Business Advancement at Southern New Hampshire University to help women in business.

A SENATOR NEW HAMPSHIRE WOMEN CAN COUNT ON

In Jeanne Shaheen, New Hampshire women have a Senator they can trust to fight for equal pay, champion the Violence Against Women Act, and protect their access to critical health services like preventive care and mammograms.  Her commonsense leadership makes a difference for Granite State women.

NH Insurance Department’s NHHealthCost.org Website Online, Major Enhancements Planned

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Screen shot 2014-07-09 at 8.17.35 PMConcord, NH – The New Hampshire Insurance Department’s renowned website NHHealthCost.org is back online after a hiatus, allowing New Hampshire residents to make informed decisions about common health care procedures by comparing rates at health care providers throughout the state on services such as knee surgeries, colonoscopies, MRIs, CT scans, ultrasounds, and X-rays.

NHHealthCost, which was created by the Insurance Department in 2007, uses paid claims data collected from New Hampshire’s health insurers to show patients (both insured and uninsured) an estimated price for a procedure. Patients are able to access the total costs of their procedures, including physician fees, lab fees, and facility fees. New Hampshire residents can use the site to find out expected charges – and out-of-pocket costs – and see how they vary among hospitals and outpatient facilities.

“NHHealthCost was the first website in the country to provide this level of health care cost information to consumers, and it has received national acclaim for doing so,” said New Hampshire Insurance Commissioner Roger Sevigny. “We are working on enhancing the website over the coming year to add more procedures and new information for consumers.”

Tyler Brannen, health policy analyst for the New Hampshire Insurance Department and the site’s creator, said additions to the NHHealthCost site over the next year will include cost information for dozens more procedures, including rates for laboratory services, dental care, prescription drugs, and out-of-state services. The site also will include more resources for New Hampshire residents, including information on how to use insurance benefits and navigating the health care delivery system.

The site was offline for several months this year while the Department worked through challenges with an outside company it had hired to capture raw claims data from health insurers and consolidate that information into a database.

“We are happy to report that NHHealthCost will grow over the coming year as a source of vital information for health care consumers in New Hampshire,” Brannen said.

In 2010, the New Hampshire Insurance Department was awarded The Innovation in Data Dissemination Award for the site by the National Association of Health Data Organizations.

The website can be found at www.NHHealthCost.org.

The New Hampshire Insurance Department’s mission is to promote and protect the public good by ensuring the existence of a safe and competitive insurance marketplace through the development and enforcement of the insurance laws of the State of New Hampshire. For more information, visit www.nh.gov/insurance.

Shea-Porter Cosponsors Legislation to Fix SCOTUS Hobby Lobby Decision

Carol Shea Porter Official Photo

WASHINGTON, DC – Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01) will help introduce legislation in response to the Supreme Court’s Burwell v. Hobby Lobby decision to restrict women’s access to health care. The bill would ensure that women’s health care decisions are not at the mercy of their bosses’ religious beliefs.

“In the 21st century, for-profit corporations should not be allowed to block employees’ access to critical preventive health services like birth control,” Shea-Porter said. “I’m pleased that this legislation extends proper protection to religious employers and non-profit institutions, and I urge Congress to act now to avert the negative consequences of the Supreme Court’s disturbing decision and make clear that women and their doctors, not their bosses or politicians, have control over personal health care decisions.”

The Protect Women’s Health from Corporate Interference Act of 2014 would explicitly prohibit for-profit employers that maintain a group health plan for its employees from using their personal religious beliefs as a justification to deny employees coverage of contraception or any other vital health service required by federal law. The bill exempts federally mandated health services from the Religious Freedom Restoration Act while keeping in place the existing exemption for religious employers (e.g., houses of worship) and accommodation of religious non-profits that do not wish to offer direct coverage for contraceptives.

The legislation will be introduced by Reps. Louise M. Slaughter (D-NY), Diana DeGette (D-CO), and Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) in the House, where Rep. Shea-Porter is an original cosponsor.  Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Mark Udall (D-CO) are introducing companion legislation in the Senate.

Almost 100 percent of American women use birth control at some point in their lives. The Centers for Disease Control declared it one of the Ten Great Public Health Achievements of the 20th Century. For millions of Americans, contraception coverage is a vital economic and health benefit, allowing women and families to avoid unplanned pregnancies and treat other health conditions.

After the Hobby Lobby decision, Shea-Porter called the court’s all-male majority opinion “incredibly disappointing,” and noted that “this decision will only make some women’s lives even more difficult, and leaves me wondering what’s next from this activist Supreme Court.”

Governor Hassan and DHHS Announce Implementation Timeline for NH Health Protection Program

Maggie Hassan

Enrollment to Begin July 1, Coverage to Begin in August

CONCORD – Continuing efforts to strengthen the health and economic security of thousands of hard-working Granite Staters, Governor Hassan and Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Nicholas A. Toumpas today announced that New Hampshire residents can begin applying for New Hampshire Health Protection Insurance coverage on July 1 and that insurance coverage will begin on Aug. 15th.

“The bipartisan New Hampshire Health Protection Program is a historic step forward for the health and economic well-being of New Hampshire families, businesses and communities,” Governor Maggie Hassan said. “Beginning on July 1, people can begin applying for this important protection, and on August 15th, they will have the comfort and security that comes with knowing that they have access to affordable health care.”

New Hampshire’s bipartisan health care expansion plan, signed into law by the Governor in March makes New Hampshire citizens who are between 19 and 65 years of age and have a household income of up to 138 percent of the Federal Poverty Level eligible for new health care coverage.

Applications for the NHHPP may be submitted beginning on July 1, 2014, and coverage for the NHHPP will begin on August 15, 2014. Applications may be submitted online at www.nheasy.nh.gov, by calling the Medicaid Service Center at 1-888-901-4999, by visiting a DHHS district office, or through www.healthcare.gov.

Adults who are working and have access to cost-effective insurance through their employer will be covered through their employer-sponsored insurance, with the state paying the employee’s premiums and other costs of coverage in the Health Insurance Premium Program.   Those who do not have access to cost-effective employer insurance will be enrolled in managed care plans offered by Well Sense and New Hampshire Healthy Families in the Voluntary Bridge to Marketplace Program.  (Some individuals may also voluntarily choose to enroll in a qualified health plan on the federal marketplace in 2014 if that option is determined to be cost-effective).

“Implementing the New Hampshire Health Protection Program  is an extraordinary effort,” said Commissioner Toumpas.  “By improving access to health care for those who have been unable to afford it, we have the potential to help improve the health of thousands of people in our State.”

NH residents ages 19 to 65 who meet the following financial eligibility guidelines can apply for the NH Health Protection Program:  a household of one with a monthly income limit of $1,342; a household of two with a monthly income limit of $1,809; a household of three with a monthly income limit of $2,276; and a household of four with a monthly income limit of $2,743.

DHHS is holding a series of informational sessions around the state during June that will provide additional details about the program. These are informational sessions only, they are not intended to provide application services. All sessions will cover the same information, so people need to attend only once.

Registration is not required for these informational sessions, but is appreciated.  To register go to www.surveymonkey.com/s/nh-hpp.

Anyone in need of accommodations for communication access such as interpreters, CART,  assistive listening devices, or other auxiliary aids and/or services should make that request at least 3 business days (72 hours) prior to the informational session if you wish to attend to ensure availability.  To request these accommodations, call Alex McIntire at 603-224-5566 or amcintire@lkarno.com.

Informational Session Schedule

Laconia, Monday, June 16, Laconia Middle School, 150 McGrath St., 5:30-7 pm

Berlin, Tuesday, June 17, Androscoggin Valley Hospital, 59 Page Hill Rd., 5:30-7 pm

Claremont, Wednesday, June 18, River Valley Community College, 1 College Dr., 5:30-7 pm

Nashua, Thursday, June 19, Nashua High South, 36 Riverside Dr., 5:30-7 pm

Derry, Tuesday, June 24, Municipal Center, 14 Manning St., 5:30-7 pm

Littleton, Wednesday, June 25, Littleton High School, 159, Oak Hill Ave, 5:30-7 pm

Dover, Thursday, June 26, Dover Middle School, 16 Daley Dr., 5:30-7 pm 

Portsmouth, Tuesday, July 1, Portsmouth Public Library, 175 Parrott Ave., 5:30-7 pm

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