Medicaid benefits extension for NH residents applauded

To the Editor:

I wanted to write to congratulate the N.H. Senate and House Republican leadership for their work to continue to provide extended Medicaid benefits to those citizens of New Hampshire who need this important help. It is encouraging to see so many of our elected representatives and senators working through difficult issues to arrive at consensus legislation. This extension of Medicaid benefits will help many of the most at-risk residents of our state to continue to have health care access and coverage.

I was disappointed to see that my state senator, Sen. Andy Sanborn, feels that providing health coverage to people earning slightly more than the official poverty levels would discourage them from working. He was quoted as saying, "Do we want to vote for a message that says ‘I don’t want to work hard? I don’t want to do my fair share.’??" This is discouraging on several levels. First, we are talking about health care coverage, not income support. Secondly, research that has been done on poverty shows overwhelmingly that health issues and lack of access or coverage contributes to people being unable to work or job loss.

I would recommend Sen. Sanborn consider any of the following books: Ehrenreich, Barbara (2001). "Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America," Kalleberg, Arne (2011). "Good Jobs, Bad Jobs: The Rise of Polarized and Precarious Employment Systems in the United States," and finally there have been multiple research studies that have shown that the most common cause of bankruptcy before the housing crash of 2008 was outstanding medical bills.

Sen. Sanborn is philosophically against helping people struggling in poverty and that is certainly his prerogative. However, saying that providing people with health care coverage will cause them not to work or work harder to improve their lives is untrue and not supported by the facts. It flies in the face of research and sociological data.

Again, my congratulations to the Republican leadership of both the House and Senate on their willingness to continue to help those in our state who need this continued health care coverage.

Richard B Friedman, MD