Mobilizing people to advocate for policies that will advance community health
If you are interested in helping to improve access to critical health services for people with low-income in your community, SB 308 is the legislation to watch. There are four important ways in which the legislation, if passed, will improve access to care for the most vulnerable New Hampshire residents.
First, the bill would increase Medicaid reimbursement rates by 5% in Fiscal Year 2020 and by another 7% in Fiscal Year 2021 for all Medicaid providers. Medicaid is the largest source of funding for health services for people with low-income in the United States, providing free health insurance to 74 million low-income and disabled people. New Hampshire has among the lowest Medicaid reimbursement rates in the nation. New Hampshire providers are often reimbursed by Medicaid at rates that are less than it costs them to provide care. This creates a significant barrier to access for low-income New Hampshire residents. For example, over three quarters of infants suffering from drug withdrawal due to maternal drug use are Medicaid patients.
Second, the bill would expand reimbursement for telehealth services to include primary care, substance use disorder treatment, and early intervention services. Telehealth, the provision of healthcare remotely by means of telecommunications technology, is among the most cost-effective ways available for expanding access to care into rural areas. Telehealth services need to be covered by Medicaid in order to fully implement them in rural and underserved areas.
Third, the bill would provide funding to help attract and retain the healthcare workforce in New Hampshire. Over 2,000 healthcare worker vacancies exist across New Hampshire, with nearly 900 in the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health system alone. The Student Loan Repayment Program, Area Health Education Centers, the Primary Care Workforce Program, the Governor’s Scholarship Program, and the Advanced Training Program each provide incentives to attract and retain more healthcare providers into the New Hampshire workforce.
Finally, the bill would improve the process by which health care organizations obtain criminal background checks for employees. By switching from a paper to an online system, the bill would enable better data collection about the healthcare workforce and would speed up background checks and the renewal of licenses.
SB 308 passed the Senate on a unanimous vote on March 27th. Next, the House of Representatives will assign the bill to a committee and schedule a hearing in the next couple of weeks. The House Committee will hold a public hearing before the entire House votes on the bill. If you are interested in learning more or lending your voice to advocate for SB 308, complete this online interest form. Partners for Community Wellness is launching an advocacy network for people interested in staying engaged in public policy issues affecting health care access and the overall health of our communities. Currently, we are working with the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Government Relations team and a coalition of more than 20 other health care organizations to ensure passage of SB 308. We will shift our focus to other critical policy issues in the future. As an advocate, you will have opportunities to learn and to help educate others about, and to have your voice heard on, critical policy issues affecting health in your community. We hope to hear from you!
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