In The News - Rights and Democracy NH

Medicaid Work Requirements Could Harm People Who Need Health Care Now

By Amy Hathaway - appeared in the Concord Monitor on April 26, 2018

Thanks to Medicaid Expansion, more than 52,000 Granite State residents are able to access health care through the New Hampshire Health Protection Program.

Since the program began in 2015, 130,000 people have received access to life-saving, preventative health care, addiction treatment, and routine outpatient care that many of us with private insurance take for granted.

Medicaid expansion has provided insurance to people when they have lost their job, has given people access to health care who work for low wages at companies that don’t offer insurance, provided an opportunity for people addicted to opioids to get into recovery programs, and has made our hospitals and community health centers more sustainable.

A bill is currently in the legislature to re-authorize New Hampshire’s program for another five years, but it would introduce new work requirements that could shut out many of the people Medicaid expansion is supposed to help – and burden many who get their health care through Medicaid now.

The state of New Hampshire is asking the Trump administration to allow it to impose requirements that Medicaid-eligible individuals work an average of 25 hours per week, making it the most punitive work requirement in the country. If paid work cannot be found, people could be forced to perform unpaid labor in order to fulfill the mandatory work requirements. In some cases, self employment, providing care to an ill or disabled family member, education and job training, or participation in a substance abuse recovery program could meet the requirement.

These forced labor requirements will mean people will have to juggle more, not less, in order to get the health care they need. The new rules punish people who face discrimination based on race, gender, or disability. They will take a toll on communities where jobs are scarce and will hurt people struggling with substance use and mental health issues. These forced requirements could destroy the promise of health care at a time when people need that promise the most.

Proponents of the work requirements will tell you that this is a way to get more people into the New Hampshire workforce.  But, most working-age adults without a disability who use Medicaid already work, and many of them have jobs thanks to Medicaid — not despite it. That’s because Medicaid helps them get and stay healthy enough to work.

Currently 65 percent of people who are on the NH Health Protection Plan are employed. The remaining 35 percent are mostly people who are physically unable to work, have young children at home, or are caring for a family member. Our short history with the program indicates that most of these people will return to work as soon as they are able. Managing a work requirement program will be challenging, time consuming and expensive, and will create a new  layer of bureaucracy to vet and review compliance with the new requirements. And, with few job opportunities in parts of New Hampshire, this means many will be forced into unpaid labor, and in many cases with no reliable transportation to help them keep their health care. These extra barriers could make is so that some Medicaid-eligible people will be denied access to health care or never even apply and become so ill that it will take even longer for them to return to work.

This is part of a disturbing trend with the Trump administration, which announced an executive order on April 10th that it will force people into unpaid labor or part-time work in order to receive any public benefit—including housing, food, and health care. That kind of servitude in exchange for basic needs has no place in New Hampshire or our country.

Certainly the state has a role to play in helping people get training and work experience in order to find better jobs and build our states economy, but keeping people from seeing a doctor is not the way to build a healthy workforce.

Amy Hathaway, OTR/L, of Keene, is an Occupational Therapist and Educator, and is the co-founder of the Monadnock Progressive Alliance.


Hundreds gather for transgender equality rally in Manchester

Hundreds of people took part in a rally for transgender equality in Manchester's Victory Park.

The rally came after President Trump called for a ban on transgender people from serving in the military but organizer said it was not solely based on that.

Organizers said they're looking at a more local approach to Transgender rights.

New Hampshire lawmakers voted to table a controversial bill concerning transgender rights earlier this year, which was a big topic of discussion at the rally.

The bill would have banned discrimination based on someone's identity. Opponents of the bill said it would have unintended consequences over the use of public bathrooms.

Supporters said it would have extended non-discrimination protections already on the books.

Those who attended Saturday's rally called on state officials to take up the issue again.

"We are working towards making sure that in the next three to four years we have candidates in place that are going to be advocating for us," said rally-attendee Helena Iaquinta. "We don't want to keep responding. We want to be ahead of the game."

The advocacy group Rights and Democracy held today's rally and plan to hold similar events in the future.

 

Also check out this Photo Gallery from the Concord Monitor


Advocacy groups seek meeting with Gov. Sununu

PORTSMOUTH – Picketers outside 3S Artspace on Wednesday were not there in opposition to the event being held, and in fact applauded the honoring of the 10 to Watch.

Instead, members of Indivisible New Hampshire, Indivisible Portsmouth, Seacoast Huddle, Granite State Progress, and Rights and Democracy were there to see keynote speaker, Governor Chris Sununu, because of their concerns over the potential passage of the GOP health care bill, which some are calling Trumpcare 2.0, and what they say will be the devastating impacts of the bill which will replace the Affordable Care Act.

Each year, 10 to Watch recognizes young Seacoast entrepreneurs and professionals who are making a contribution to their communities.

“We think that’s wonderful,” said Linda Rhodes of Indivisible New Hampshire. “What we are doing is following the schedule of the governor because we want him to agree to meet with us. We have been asking and so far, we have received no response.”

Zandra Rice Hawkins of Granite State Progress said passing the Republican health care bill will be “rolling the dial back” on progress made to provide affordable health insurance, and that many people now covered will lose their insurance under the new plan.

The activists were handing out flyers with information, and band-aids. They were asking the attendees of 10 to Watch to wear the band-aids in support of their efforts to speak with the governor.

“We want a face to face with the governor to have a chance to voice our concerns,” said Rhodes. “The ACA added so many citizens to the insurance rolls and now all the games in this new plan will be reversing that. The governor is trying to place band-aids on the concerns and said the plan was a good conversation starter. He needs to hear what the people of his state have to say.”

When Sununu arrived, he politely took one of the groups’ flyers but did not stop to speak with them, heading to the scheduled event.

The groups say that the Republican health care plan will take away health care from 24 million Americans, send premiums through the roof, and put people with pre-existing health conditions at the mercy of insurance companies. If Sununu does not take steps to oppose the plan, they say 118,000 Granite Staters covered are at risk, and the risks also include 52,700 people now covered under the ACA Expanded Medicaid, and 597,100 NH residents with pre-existing conditions.

Read the full story here.


Monitor: Trust them, these loyal supporters still love Bernie

http://www.concordmonitor.com/Trust-and-loyalty-still-burn-brightly-for-Bernie-in-Warner-4544621

Trust them, these loyal supporters still love Bernie 

  • Children run in front of the stage as Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is presented a banner with thank-you messages at the Political Revolution Party at Jim Mitchell Community Park in Warner on Monday. The event was put on by the political organizations Rights & Democracy and Our Revolution. ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff » Buy this Image


By RAY DUCKLER
Monitor columnist

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Bernie Sanders keeps dreaming about a better world.

And his supporters keep dreaming about Bernie.

They love him, every part of him, from his New York accent, to his rolled up shirtsleeves, to his arms extending into a hard lean against the lectern. And they trust him, too, seeing an honest, decent soul who bears no resemblance to a deceitful snake-oil salesperson.

Would you buy a used car from this man? In the case of the 400 people who showed up at Jim Mitchell Community Park in Warner on Monday, you bet. In Bernie they trust.

Read more

Boston Globe coverage of Labor Day

BOSTON GLOBE, September 5, 2016

Sanders stumps for Clinton, slams Trump in N.H.

"In Warner, at an event organized by the left-leaning Rights and Democracy group, some Democrats seemed reluctant, but ready, to support Clinton.

“I think a lot of people feel like we’re voting for the best of the worst,” said Peter Ingold, of Warner. “She’s too much of a politician.”

Yet he and his wife, Kerry Ingold, said they feel like they have no other choice but to vote for her -- which seemed to match the tone of some of the events that day.

“We are very, very terrified of Trump,” Kerry Ingold said."

Read more

connect

get updates