Donchess: ACA critical in opioid fight

Bill | Nashua mayor asks Hassan to keep health care law intact.

NASHUA – Mayor Jim Donchess wants to see the Affordable Care Act, currently being dismantled in Congress, remain in place at a time when the city struggles to deal with the opioid addiction crisis.

“The heroin, opioid and fentanyl crisis is devastating families and businesses in Nashua,” Donchess wrote to Democratic U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan, asking the former New Hampshire governor to work to keep the law, also known as “Obamacare,” on the books.

Congress, controlled by Republicans and buoyed by President Donald Trump, is looking to end the signature health care law enacted by former President Barack Obama, although no formal plan to replace the health care access standard has been presented.

Donchess said Nashuans’ lives are in the balance if the ACA is taken away.

“Repealing the Affordable Care Act, and as a result Medicaid expansion, would threaten critical services to thousands of Granite Staters,” he wrote.

Under a deal Hassan worked out with a GOP-controlled Statehouse, New Hampshire expanded Medicaid, giving 55,000 residents access to medical care. This has meant that those battling addiction have health insurance to pay for recovery treatment, as well as medical and mental health issues related to their addiction.

Although Congress has yet to offer a formal plan to replace the ACA, and especially the expanded Medicaid, some plans have been floated that would take the Medicaid funding and send it to the states in the form of a block grant. Donchess said this type of scheme will result in cuts to services and more people left without basic care.

“That will leave the states, and ultimately the cities, holding the bag as shrinking federal funds fail to meet the real health care needs of vulnerable citizens,” Donchess wrote.

Hassan has said that while she is open to reforming the ACA and making it a better law, it is too important to have it repealed and replaced as the Republicans in Congress are currently planning to do.

“Yes, there are improvements that we need to make to the ACA, but to pull out the rug right now would just be truly destabilizing and truly catastrophic for a lot of the people in this state,” Hassan said in a statement.

Damien Fisher can be reached at 594-1245, dfisher@nashua or @Telegraph_DF.