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Politics and HHS: Wait, who cut nursing home funding?

EDITORIAL
May 09. 2015 7:52PM




In January, Health and Human Services Commissioner Nick Toumpas revealed his plan to take $7 million in state funding for nursing homes and use it to plug a $58 million hole in the HHS budget. "I don't have a whole lot of options," he said.

Gov. Maggie Hassan called the move "fiscally responsible and another important step in ensuring a balanced budget for Fiscal Year 2015. These are difficult, but necessary, actions to maintain a balanced budget."

On Tuesday, Hassan announced that, with the help of the House Finance Committee and HHS, the cut to nursing homes would be fully restored. So to summarize, a Democratic administration cut nursing home funding, and the majority-Republican House Finance Committee worked with the administration to find ways to restore it.

Oh, but that narrative just won't work in politics these days. Falsehood motivates the base so much more than facts do.

"While Jeanie Forrester was busy with her dishonest political grandstanding, Governor Hassan, DHHS and the House Finance Committee worked together to develop a bipartisan solution that will provide nursing homes a rate increase while maintaining a balanced budget," state Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley said in a statement on Tuesday. Hmmm.

Sen. Jeanie Forrester, R-Meredith, is the state senator who sponsored the bill in the Senate to restore Hassan's cuts. According to the Democratic Party, the Republican senator who opposed Hassan's cuts and tried to restore them is the bad guy, and the Democratic governor who made the cuts in the first place is the hero.

This is exactly why so many people tune politics out, disgusted by the dishonesty and nastiness.

It gets better, though. The money to restore the nursing home funding came from a surplus in a program that allows Medicare recipients to live at home instead of in nursing homes. That program was part of Granite Care, former Republican HHS Commissioner John Stephen's initiative to save money while providing higher-quality care to those who needed it.

Granite Care was opposed by then-Democratic Gov. John Lynch and the New Hampshire Democratic Party. Now its savings have allowed the next Democratic governor to play hero by restoring her own nursing home cuts. Don't look for that tidbit, or a note of thanks to Stephen, in any upcoming Gov. Hassan press releases, though.


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