Looking back at the week in news

Representative didn’t know, but that didn’t stop him

Recent statements by Epson state Rep. Dan McGuire indicate he’s not a slave to facts.

On a Manchester community access television program dubbed “rocks… paper… hand grenades” he recently suggested that the spike in statewide heroin deaths could be attributable to Medicaid expansion.

When asked to explain his reasoning by host and fellow Rep. Gary Hopper of Weare, McGuire responded:

“Because expanded Medicaid now has substance-abuse-disorder treatment. So you’re more able to get substance-abuse treatment than you were previously,” McGuire answered.

“But wouldn’t that imply that there would be less of that?” asked Hopper.

“If it’s valuable,” said McGuire. “But maybe it’s a little easier to maintain yourself in that situation. I don’t know.”

“In other words, it enables people to feel comfortable staying addicted because there is a safety net?” asked Hopper.

“I think that’s possible,” replied McGuire. “The two things seem to be happening at roughly the same time, you know. Are they causal or related? I don’t know.”

He could have saved himself some time and energy by starting and stopping at that final sentence.

The surge in heroin deaths and related overdoses can be traced as far back as the first years of the decade. Medicaid expansion was approved in the waning day of the 2014 legislative session.

For someone who really should know better to suggest that a program not even eight months old could be responsible for the deaths of people two, three or more years ago is ignorant.

The Granite State approach to local bridge maintenance

When it comes to maintaining bridges, New Hampshire ranks 14th worst in the country, with 324 of its 2,467 bridges, 13.1 percent, ranked as structurally deficient by the U.S. Department of Transportation. One estimate pegs the cost of fixing deficient bridges at just under $8 billion, which is significant considering that, over the past five years, a little less than $500 million has been spent on state bridge repairs.

These figures don’t tell the whole story though, because, according to state DOT spokesman Bill Boynton, they don’t include bridges owned by cities and towns. New Hampshire has 1,687 such municipal bridges, of which 344 are considered deficient to the extent they are required to be inspected twice a year.

Those bridges are likely to get worse before they get better because the budget approved by the House of Representatives this week reneges on last year’s promise to send back to municipalities some of the money raised from the gasoline tax increase.

Eventually, these local bridges will have to be repaired, which means cities and towns will have to raise property taxes or reduce other services instead of using revenue raised by people who use highways and bridges the most. Brilliant.

Breaking promises and dumping costs on communities. That’s what passes for responsible governance in Concord.

Montero served state well
as director of public health

New Hampshire’s loss is Cheshire Medical Center/Dartmouth-Hitchcock’s gain. State Director of Public Health Dr. Jose Montero is leaving his post in May to become the hospital’s vice president of population health and health system integration. Before assuming his current position in 2008, Montero also served as chief of the state’s New Hampshire’s Bureau of Communicable Disease Control and Surveillance.

In these high level public positions, Montero has been a dependable, calming and intelligent voice of reason with regard to health issues important to New Hampshire residents. Whether the issue was West Nile virus, anthrax, smallpox, SARS or Ebola, Montero was always able to make often complicated concepts understandable and less threatening.

The state will hire a new state director of public health, but it won’t replace Dr. Montero.