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Zoom Roundtable: Rep. Annie Kuster Joins Treatment Providers, Individuals in Recovery to Discuss Addiction Crisis Amid COVID-19

Concord, NH— This week, New Futures and Protect Our Care New Hampshire welcomed Congresswoman Annie Kuster for a roundtable discussion on the state of New Hampshire’s ongoing addiction crisis.  The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the shape of substance use treatment and recovery in New Hampshire.  Meanwhile, the ongoing Texas V. United States lawsuit is threatening to overturn the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and eliminate health insurance for thousands of Granite Staters battling substance use disorder.
 
SUD COVID 19 Roundtable RecordingDuring the roundtable, substance use treatment and recovery providers shared how COVID-19 has impacted their services, and Rep. Kuster addressed how Medicaid Expansion is helping to bridge the gap in this time of need.  See the meeting here:
 
Rep. Kuster has helped worked with the rest of the New Hampshire’s Congressional Delegation to protect Granite Staters’ health. She described the dire consequences of the ACA lawsuit in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Rep. Kuster said that more than 52 million Americans live with pre-existing conditions and could lose health care coverage if the ACA is repealed.  Kuster urged President Trump and members of Congress to make changes and give access to healthcare to every American instead of fighting Medicaid.
 
Rep. Kuster noted that many recovery centers have moved online, while recovery providers find creative ways to do their jobs. And, she said, COVID-19 threatens to undo progress, just as access to treatment is critical. “Republicans continue to try to strike down the Affordable Care Act despite COVID-19. Medicaid expansion budget cuts will make the opioid crisis worse,” she said.


 On the call, themes emerged around decreased access substance use treatment due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “We have seen a drop in people in recovery, and because people are afraid of COVID-19, people are afraid of seeking treatment, or going to an emergency room,” said Kim Boch, Executive Director of the N.H. Coalition of Recovery Residences.


Dr. Patrick Ho of Dartmouth-Hitchcock, President of the N.H. Psychiatric Association, said: “Now more than ever we need to be advocates, people are finding it hard to access recovery due to COVID-19.”
 
Shanna Large, Director of Substance Use Disorders at Riverbend Community Mental Health in Concord, told the group Riverbend has “seen a huge decline in the number of people calling for our services — but we know that the need has not declined.”
 
More than 90 people participated in the call, which included contributions from: Dr. Patrick Ho, Dartmouth-Hitchcock; President, NH Psychiatric Society, Shanna Large, Director of Substance Use Disorders, Riverbend Community Mental Health Kim Boch, Executive Director, N.H. Coalition of Recovery Residences, Michelle Lennon, Executive Director, Greater Tilton Area Family Resource Center, Natacha Davis, ACES Crisis Recovery Coach, Revive Recovery Center and DJ Johnson, Strength to Succeed Family Resource Center.
 
In the fight against the addiction epidemic, the ACA has provided greater access to substance use treatment and recovery services for individuals and families in need, and has led to real progress in NH through a new set of tools to address use of opioids in particular. The ACA has helped New Hampshire to address the opioid epidemic through four tactics: Insurance coverage expansion; regulatory insurance reforms that require substance abuse disorder treatment, enhanced parity; and integration of SUD treatment into mainstream health care.