Kuster, Health Care Advocates Highlight Importance of the Affordable Care Act to Substance Use Treatment in New Hampshire
Concord, NH -- Today, Congresswoman Annie Kuster called on Granite Staters to check out comprehensive healthcare plans under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) before Open Enrollment ends at midnight on Tuesday, December 15th. Rep. Kuster joined a roundtable discussion today on the state of New Hampshire’s ongoing addiction crisis, and how the ACA has played a crucial role. The COVID-19 pandemic changed the shape of substance use treatment and recovery in New Hampshire in 2020 with health insurance for thousands of Granite Staters battling substance use disorder.
During the roundtable, hosted New Futures and Protect Our Care New Hampshire, substance use treatment and recovery providers shared how COVID-19 has impacted their services, and Rep. Kuster talked about how Medicaid Expansion is helping to bridge the gap in this time of need. Rep. Kuster noted that many recovery centers have moved online, while recovery providers find creative ways to do their jobs. And, she said, while COVID-19 threatened to undo progress, New Hampshire treatment agencies have adapted and overcome many of the initial challenges.
Rep. Annie Kuster, a member of the House Energy & Commerce Health Subcommittee as well as the founder and Co-Chair of the Bipartisan Opioid Task Force, said, “I encourage all Granite Staters who are not yet covered for 2021 and those who already get coverage through the ACA exchange to visit HealthCare.Gov as soon as possible to sign up for care or shop around and ensure that you and your family are enrolled in the plan that best suits your needs. The deadline to enroll or make changes to your plan is 11:59 PM tomorrow, Tuesday, December 15. Thank you to Protect Our Care and New Futures for organizing today’s conversation about substance use treatment in New Hampshire and the importance of the Affordable Care Act. More than 63 thousand Granite Staters have gained access to health care through the ACA, and Medicaid expansion has been crucial to addressing the opioid crisis. In our state, the opioid epidemic has been worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic, and quality, affordable health coverage has never been more important than it is now.”
Jake Berry, vice president of policy at New Futures said"As of November 15, the state had recorded 351 fatal overdoses in 2020. That puts us on pace to fall below last year’s total of 415 by year’s end. There are certainly a number of factors contributing to this progress, including the hard work of our treatment and recovery providers, and the increased availability of Narcan, the overdose reversal drug. But, by far, the most impactful resource contributing to this positive trend is the health insurance provided through the Affordable Care Act.”
Jonathan Brown from Harbor Care in Nashua said“As one of only three health care for the homeless health centers in New Hampshire, 75% of our total patients are at risk for experiencing homelessness at this very moment,” said Brown. “Prior to the implementation of the [Affordable Care Act], we had a 79% uninsured rate. In 2019, that number was just 16%... To see such a significant change in the insured status of our patients, that really is quite amazing.” Brown added, “The opioid epidemic has hit New Hampshire hard, and… this crisis has not spared any community in our state… The integration of [substance abuse] treatment into mainstream health care is working, increasing parity, eliminating stigmas, and integrating both the recognition and treatment of this disease at all sectors of our health care system.”
Dr. Seddon Savage of Dartmouth Hitchcock said “COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on the health of NH citizens, not only the direct ravages of COVID-19 illness on so many individuals and families, but also in the tsunami of mental health and substance challenges that is following in its wake. In this context the ACA and expanded Medicaid have never been more important. (possible stop here) By providing affordable access to care for thousands of NH citizens and better informing our health systems to effectively address mental health and substance challenges, the ACA is critical to combatting both COVID-19 and the now amplified mental health and drug challenges we have been experienced for over a decade. “
Mary Drew, Founder & CEO of Reality Check “we are happy to partner with Congresswoman Kuster's office to ensure the word gets out about Medicaid expansion so more uninsured people in New Hampshire can access health coverage for mental health and substance use issues. As a mother of two adult children who experience mental health issues and who do not take pharmaceuticals, it is incredibly important they have access to health insurance that will support holistic mental health counseling and other remedies.”
As COVID-19 cases hit daily records across the country, Granite Staters need peace of mind and access to a full range of resources to help them get covered or keep their coverage for the upcoming year. According to the U.S. Census, the uninsured rate in New Hampshire went from 10.7 percent in 2013 to 5 percent in 2017, thanks to the ACA. So far, almost 19,000 Granite Staters have renewed or signed up for 2021 coverage under the ACA. New Hampshire residents have until December 15, 2020, to enroll for comprehensive health coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace. Most who apply will be eligible for subsidies to reduce or in some cases cover all out-of-pocket costs for a wide range of plans, depending on income levels.
To learn more about signing up for health care coverage through the ACA marketplace, go to Healthcare.govor CuidadoDeSalud.gov. Additional information about how the Affordable Care Act is helping NH residents access affordable care is available at www.CoveringNH.org.
The deadline to sign up for health coverage through Open Enrollment is midnight on December 15, 2020, in New Hampshire. Free help can be found via https://acanavigator.com/nh/homeAnd, many families may also qualify for Medicaid through the Granite Advantage Program at NHeasy.com.