March 4 at 8:56 am
BY GREG SARGENT
* DEMS PUSH REPUBLICANS ON MEDICAID EXPANSION: The Dem-allied Americans United for Change is up with new radio ads hitting state legislators in New Hampshire in advance of this week’s vote on the state’s version of the Medicaid expansion. AUFC recently launched ads in Nebraska pushing for the same.
Some conservatives are vowing to hold GOP lawmakers who vote to expand coverage to their own constituents accountable with a primary. With AFP organizing against the expansion in other states, it’s clear that this aspect of Obamacare will continue to draw attention from outside groups.
Thousands in Need of Treatment Could Benefit From Thursday’s Senate Vote
By Joe Gallagher, 3 hours ago
Of the 113,000 New Hampshire residents estimated to need treatment for alcohol and other drug disorders, only 6,000 per year receive needed treatment through state-funded programs—that leaves a population in New Hampshire without access to state-funded programs larger than 2014 Superbowl attendance.
Tomorrow the State Senate will vote on a bill that could extend substance abuse disorder coverage to thousands in the Granite State. If this bill passes, the House of Representatives will vote on it and Governor Hassan will sign it into law.
“Expanding Medicaid will support this treatment-first approach by providing thousands of people with substance and alcohol treatment coverage for the first time, improving lives while strengthening our economy and public safety,” Hassan said at her State of the State address.
New Hampshire drug and alcohol problems don’t seem to be going away. Just a few months ago, Lt. Maureen Tessier attributed the spike in Manchester crime to drug addiction—especially heroin—which has emerged as the low-cost alternative to OxyContin and Percocet in New Hampshire. A Manchester drug-sweep followed in February, netting 30 for drug-related crimes.
“We cannot arrest away this drug problem; it’s an underlying addiction problem,” Chief David Mara said. “We don’t have the resources as law enforcement to fight the addiction problem. What we can do is try to get these people off the streets and hopefully once they are in the corrections facility, or once they get involved with the court, hopefully they will be able to get some treatment.”
The Senate vote on Thursday will do exactly that, according to Linda Saunders Paquette, Executive Director of New Futures.
“Accepting federal funds would allow NH General Fund dollars currently spent on treatment to be reallocated across disciplines for prevention, recovery supports, and other related services aimed at reducing crime associated with substance abuse. Expanding these resources can address the underlying cause of cyclical drug-related crime and incarceration in our state.”
“You can put bars and barbed wire around somebody with addiction; without appropriate treatment and supports, they will not recover from their addiction.”
The recovery community has been vocal in framing New Hampshire substance abuse problems as a health issue rather than a criminal justice issue. Recovery advocates have urged the Senate to invest in expanding treatment to addicts, instead of “quarantining” them in prison.
Prison and jail inmates are seven times likelier to have a substance use disorder than the general population. Over 90% of parole revocations in New Hampshire are due to condition violations involving parolees who used drugs or alcohol. If the Senate votes “yes” on Thursday, many in the newly covered population would be on probation, parole, or participating in drug or mental health courts.