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The House Health and Human Services Committee has sent an amended bill on to the full House which would allow not just cancer specialty hospitals (like Cancer Treatment Centers of America) but all specialty hospitals to bypass the Certificate of Need process. Meanwhile, all other hospitals in the state would still have to go in front of the CON board to gain approval for new or expanded services.
Concord Republican Rep. Lynn Blakenbeker voted in favor of the bill.
“We as a state should be encouraging businesses all kinds to come into the state especially when it comes to specialty healthcare treatment we should be offering all options,” she says. Continue Reading
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As part of the Affordable Care Act, every state must have a health insurance exchange in place by January 2014. An exchange is a clearinghouse of sorts where people and small business can go to buy insurance and also find out which tax rebates they may use to help them buy coverage.
“I’ve heard people compare it to Expedia or Travelocity,” says Lisa Kaplan Howe, policy director for NH Voices for Health. “You can do an apples to apples comparison of premiums and benefits and for the first time have all the information laid out in one place and be able to go to that place to purchase something to suit your needs.” Continue Reading
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The Certificate of Need process faces continued legislative scrutiny this session.
New Hampshire legislators are proposing a law that would do away with the Certificate of Need process. This is a state requirement for hospitals and other healthcare facilities that want to expand or establish new medical facilities. The aim of CON is to keep redundant healthcare out of the system.
Recently, the CON process has faced legislative scrutiny in another House bill as the for-profit Cancer Treatment Centers of America pushes to build a facility in the Granite State. At the heart of that debate is two questions: Does New Hampshire actually need a specialty cancer treatment center? (Cancer Treatment Center representatives say that CON, the answer is “no.”) And if the CON process is abandoned, would the center live up to its promises to bring more jobs and money into the state’s economy?
But the Cancer Treatment Centers of America proposal is only a piece of the larger economic debate swirling around CON.
Cancer Treatment Centers of America is eying a spot in New Hampshire. The for profit chain wants to build a hospital in the Northeast. CTCA successfully lobbied Georgia to change its regulations so a specialty hospital could be built in that state. The company is hoping lawmakers in New Hampshire will make similar changes. A proposed law would exempt specialty cancer hospitals from certain regulations and also from Medicaid taxes. Representatives from CTCA were noticeably absent from a committee hearing on the bill Tuesday, but showed up on Thursday to make their case to lawmakers.
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State legislators looking back at 2011 say they kept their promises to make the state more business friendly. House Majority Leader D.J. Bettencourt told the Union Leader that Republicans fulfilled their agenda.
While Republicans were concentrating on crafting a fiscally responsible budget, rolling back regulations and taxes on businesses, and creating jobs, Democrats and some in the media were obsessed with social issues, he said. “We passed dozens of pieces of legislation that will keep the ‘Open for Business’ sign up in New Hampshire,” Bettencourt said.
Conservationists and Northern Pass Are Vying for the Same Land
The Union Leader reports that donations poured in online over the holiday weekend to the conservation group, Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, to buy 5,800 acres from the Balsams Wilderness Resort. The paper reports that the group received more than 100 online contributions to help raise $850,000 to buy the land.
The parcel includes an area which Northern Pass Transmission, LLC, hopes to purchase to build its power lines.
It’s the latest move in a back-and-forth with high stakes — owners of Northern Pass say the massive energy project will bring needed jobs to the financially ailing North Country, while environmentalists object to the proposed power lines. They say lines cutting through the northern woods and the White Mountain National Forest will hurt the habitat and create greenhouse gases from submerged rotting vegetation.
The Union Leader has more on the sale:
Northern Pass Transmission, LLC, had offered $3 million for the right-of-way to the Neil Tillotson Trust for the land surrounding the Balsams Resort, but trustees decided in favor of the Forest Society, signing a purchase-and-sales agreement Dec. 6.
Northern Pass challenged the deal, but the Attorney General’s Office responded that the trustees were acting within their right.
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A look back at this year’s major state budget cuts shows who took the hardest hits in New Hampshire. As the Nashua Telegraph reports, with $1 billion slashed from the budget, more agencies than usual felt the effects.
Republican legislators heralded the budget as a victory for smaller government, shaving more than $1 billion, or 11 percent, off the prior spending plan.
But many state Democrats decried the budget for digging too deeply into some of the state’s most essential services and programs.