Health program

Nashua Representative Cindy Rosenwald is the prime sponsor of a bill to re-authorize the New Hampshire Health Protection Program, our version of Medicaid Expansion. I urge readers to contact her to support her efforts and let their own state representatives know they also should support NHHPP.

For those whose jobs don’t offer medical insurance and who can’t afford to buy it on the open market, NHHPP provides access to basic health care services. It is largely funded with already earmarked federal funds and currently provides over 50,000 people statewide, nearly 4,000 just in the Nashua area, access to wellness checks, emergency room care, and prescription medications. It gives unemployed people who are ill or recovering from a serious medical condition the opportunity to get well and return to work. Many people already have cycled off the program when they found jobs that offered health insurance or became eligible for other programs such as Medicare.

It’s self-evident that having access to health care is better than not having it, but a 2016 report in the Journal of the American Medical Association also confirms that overall health has improved in states that have adopted Medicaid Expansion compared to the 19 states that have not. People in participating states are less likely to skip taking medication due to costs, less likely to visit the emergency room, and more likely to have access to primary care. When people can get preventative care, they avoid the crises that require hospitalization or expensive treatments. This reduces the burden of uncompensated care on hospitals and public funds, and on those of us whose insurance rates rise because of uncompensated services.

My own experience illustrates the economic benefits of having health insurance. I was fortunate to be insured through my school district contract in Minnesota when I developed a chronic voice disorder. Access to the very expensive treatments allowed me to continue teaching for 10 years after the onset, until I was ready to retire. This benefitted my family and me, of course, but also provided 10 years of service to my students; tax dollars for education, police, fire, and infrastructure; and the economic activity that comes with being healthy enough to earn and spend money.

This scenario can be applied to any chronic disease covered by insurance, from heart conditions to diabetes to substance abuse disorders. Beyond that, access to affordable care keeps healthy people healthy. Healthy people work. Everyone benefits. We need to let our representatives in Concord know we support NHHPP and expect them to re-authorize it.