Saturday, December 7, 2013

Rich Leonard's Op-Ed on Medicaid Expansion

As a Community Pharmacist for over 35 years I have developed relationships with many people earning trust and respect through professionalism and openness.  Attention to facts and accuracy are fundamental cornerstones of my profession along with an ability to listen carefully and teach with patience.

Recently, Republican Senators voted down legislation that would have accepted $2.5 billion of our own federal dollars to pay for Medicaid expansion in New Hampshire. One of those Senators was Sam Cataldo-District Six, (Rochester, Farmington, New Durham, Alton, Gilmanton and Barnstead). Senator Cataldo supported establishing a bipartisan commission to examine how NH could be affected. After six weeks and hearing public and expert testimony, the commission voted to recommend NH participate in Medicaid Expansion. I repeat…voted to accept and participate.

Being involved in the healthcare field I followed the proceedings with interest, attended a public hearing, and kept an open mind. Honestly, I was listening carefully for any valid argument that would make sense of the Republican Senate caucus’s stand against providing medical care to those living in poverty and not Medicaid eligible. Sam Cataldo voted against the Bill despite his own Special Commissions recommendation. In Sam’s backyard, his home town of Farmington has one of the highest rates of poverty in the area at 14.8%. Senator Cataldo's vote against the interest of his own neighbors will have a real impact. Farmington would have benefited by having a healthier population with regular access to a doctor’s care instead of expensive ER visits. District six could have shared in the health and economic benefits as well, if Sam had voted with common sense and accepted the facts.

The fact is, most of our low-income adults in New Hampshire are not Medicaid eligible. Many of us mistakenly assumed that the poorest of our people already were covered by insurance.  Not so. NH Medicaid does not cover people between the ages of 19-64 unless they are very poor AND ALSO either pregnant, blind, disabled, medically needy, or caring for a child or a disabled person. Eligibility for some in this group only goes up to 49% of the poverty guidelines, not 100%.  We have thousands of uninsured in District Six that live at or below 100% poverty level and they will remain uninsured.  You can thank Senator Sam Cataldo for that.

Know who you are voting for next November, and why. Your choice will be critical to the future of our health, education and economic vitality.

Richard Leonard, RPh


Rich Leonard is a pharmacist working in Alton and the owner-operator of Miller Farm in New Durham. He was the 2012 Democratic nominee for NH Senate District 6, and is currently the chairperson for the New Durham Democrats, and plans to run for the NH Senate District 6 seat again in 2014.

View more from Rich Leonard on his website at www.RichLeonard4NH.org

NH Representative, Bob Perry, also has soem thoguhts on Medicaid Expansion.  Read them on his site at http://www.perry4nh.org/2013/12/expansion-of-medicaid-in-nh-would-help.html 

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