Urge state senators, especially Peter Bragdon, to accept federal funding for health care coverage

To the Editor:

A healthy and productive workforce makes for a healthy economy and for healthy communities – not just in Amherst, where I live – but throughout the state.

That’s why I’m asking Senator Bragdon to take advantage of the federal funds available to our state, which would extend health coverage to more hard-working, yet economically struggling families.

Many of our day care teachers, store clerks, landscapers and home health aides cannot afford insurance. We now have the opportunity to provide them with affordable care so they can stay healthy without potentially bankrupting their families because of unpaid medical bills. In my experience as an executive of a not-for-profit organization, I learned that healthy workers are more effective and ultimately reduce the expenses for the company.

Under health reform, the federal government will pay 100 percent of the Medicaid insurance costs for the first three years. Then, over a seven-year period, the amount of payment from the federal government will be reduced but the government will continue to pay 90 percent from then on. If the federal contribution ever changes after that, New Hampshire can withdraw – the state has that in writing from federal officials.

Under this health financing model, New Hampshire will benefit from the estimated $2.4 billion in federal funds, over the next seven years, which would flow to health clinics and hospitals – and lead to new jobs and more spending at local businesses.

By extending health coverage to more people – including mental health and substance abuse treatment – we would save money in state and local public safety budgets.

Please join me urging our state senators, especially Senator Bragdon, to vote to accept the federal funds so that as many as 48,000 people in New Hampshire will have the health care they need.

MICHAEL J. COHEN

Amherst