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As COVID-19 Spreads Across New Hampshire, Rep. Chris Pappas and Advocates Highlight Critical Role Medicaid Plays in Supporting Rural Communities

Manchester, NH-- Today, Protect Our Care New Hampshire was joined by Rep. Chris Pappas on a press call to discuss how communities in rural New Hampshire are especially vulnerable to the coronavirus, as well as how Medicaid is keeping Granite Staters safe and healthy while also providing rural hospitals with the resources needed to fight the spread of the virus. 


Participants discussed a new report highlighting the particular challenges rural Granite Staters face when it comes to the coronavirus pandemic due to higher prevalence of pre-existing conditions, lower coverage rates, and other barriers to accessing health care.


Click here to read the report, Bracing for Impact: Rural New Hampshire Faces The Coronavirus.


Click here to watch a recording of the roundtable.


Congressman Chris Pappas explained that “this pandemic is first and foremost a public health crisis. We are seeing the strain financially on our health care system, which is pronounced in rural America. Our delegation has fought for additional resources for our hospitals, our community health centers, our health care providers that are really feeling the squeeze right now...we have to do more going forward, and that’s why I’ll continue to look for ways to double down on that support for New Hampshire hospitals and health care providers.”


Jayme Simoes, State Director of Protect Our Care New Hampshire said, “We’re so grateful for Congressman Pappas’s work with leaders across New Hampshire to protect Granite Staters’ livelihoods and health during this challenging time. He has called on Congress to subsidize the cost of coverage for those who have lost their jobs, introduced legislation to make COVID-19 testing and treatment available free of cost for anyone on Medicaid, called for action to keep prescription drugs affordable in the next COVID-19 relief package, and introduced two bills to make sure our veterans have access to affordable COVID-19 treatment and care as well. The legislation Congress has passed so far has brought more than $164.5 million in funding to New Hampshire health care providers so far, including $17 million worth of funding for testing.”


Joining Congressman Pappas at the roundtable were more than 20 people, including Zandra Rice-Hawkins, Granite State Progress; Thomas Cochran, Laconia Housing; Tess Kuenning, Bi-State Primary Health Care; Dr. Nick Perencevich, Kent Street Coalition; Amanda Sears, Campaign for a Family Friendly Economy; Holly Stevens, New Futures; and Stacey Smith, a Granite Stater from Rye.


Stacey Smith spoke of the high costs of health coverage, saying she is paying very high amounts – $700 in monthly premiums plus a $6,000 deductible – just to ensure basic comprehensive, convenient coverage. 


Dr. Nick Perencevich said of his experience working as a physician in New London and the Monadnock Region, “Despite them being in well-off towns, the majority of patients admitted were poorer than, say, Concord.  A higher percentage of uninsured and Medicaid, for sure. The wealthier folks went up to Lebanon or Boston for elective or non-urgent procedures. I worked before Medicaid expansion existed, but I'm sure it helped the bottom line, but then again, these two places had endowments. Now, both are now backed up by DHMC, so things could change if the flow of funds gets worse for DHMC.”