Earlier this year, the New Hampshire Hospital Association (NHHA) released a white paper showing the impact that the New Hampshire Health Protection Plan (NHHPP) was having by reducing the number of patients without insurance who were being treated in hospital emergency rooms across the state by 17 percent as of the end of last year. Reducing the amount of uncompensated care and the hidden tax that businesses and those of us with insurance pay to care for those without insurance was a major driver in the debate over whether to expand New Hampshire’s Medicaid program, and this data continues to show that the program is having a significant impact on doing just that.

And recent data from the NHHA shows those trends continue to demonstrate the effectiveness of the program. Based on a 12-month period from April, 2014 to March, 2015, hospitals in New Hampshire saw a decline of 22 percent in the number of people without insurance who were treated in the emergency department. These reductions were also seen in the number of patients being treated in the inpatient and outpatient departments as well, 27 percent and 15 percent, respectively.

These are important trends and we expect they will continue as more people become eligible for the program. To date, nearly 40,000 hard-working, low-income Granite state residents now have health insurance and access to the type of ongoing, primary and preventive care that is so important for people to improve and maintain their health and manage their chronic conditions. It is much more cost-effective to provide primary care than it is to treat someone’s condition after it has become a crisis, and the NHHPP is helping to make that possible for tens of thousands of our friends and neighbors. The NHHA has begun profiling stories of individuals who are now benefiting as a result of the coverage that is now available through the New Hampshire Health Protection Plan and you can see them by checking www.nhha.org.

Bending the cost curve in health care is often referred to as one of our generation’s greatest challenges. If we are going to do so in a meaningful way, we have to move aggressively to make certain that patients are getting the right care, at the right time, in the right place. Hospitals are working hard to help develop systems of care that will ensure people are able to get the right level of care, when and where they need it. We are working collaboratively with our medical staff and physician partners, health plans, other providers and patients themselves to ensure they are able to access that high quality care in the most cost-effective manner and care setting. That’s what population health care is all about, and New Hampshire’s hospitals are eager to work collaboratively with others to make this vision a reality.

We look forward to continuing to provide ongoing information about how the New Hampshire Health Protection Plan is working to benefit patients, our businesses and families and our state budget. This is an important investment and step forward in helping shape the future of health care in New Hampshire. We urge the Legislature, the Governor and stakeholders across New Hampshire to work together to reauthorize the program.

 

Steve Ahnen

President