Council approves Chicoine to lead energy department and funds to help hospitals

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By PAULA TRACY, InDepthNH.org

CONCORD – The Executive Council voted 4-1 to confirm Jared Chicoine as commissioner of the new Department of Energy and approved funding for Governor Chris Sununu’s plan to help hospitals that are stressed by the recent wave of COVID- 19.

Executive adviser Cinde Warmington, D-Concord, said it was with regret that she objected to Chicoine’s confirmation, during Wednesday’s meeting.

She said Chicoine has no technical expertise and knows little about climate change. Warmington said he told her he believed free markets would support climate change, as evidenced by the 10-year plan for his post in the Office of Strategic Planning.

Warmington called the governor’s appointment of Chicoine “embarrassing” in itself, but combined with other political appointments, including those to the Public Services Commission, “indicates a dangerous direction” in the energy policy and programs of the city. ‘State.

“We have to put the interests of our state first,” Warmington said.

Councilor Joe Kenney, R-Wakefield, said he knew and respected Chicoine and called him a “child of the north.”

“Yes, he doesn’t have a technical background,” Kenney said, but noted that other commissioners in that position surrounded themselves with others with the bottom.

Hospital regime

Sununu’s “strategic and targeted first steps” to address serious capacity issues in New Hampshire hospitals have been approved. The council will use $ 14 million in federal bailout funds to help free up needed hospital beds by increasing the capacity of long-term care homes with beds but not enough staff to move people into hospital beds.

Allocating ARP funds to pay providers who take a person while their Medicaid eligibility is pending approval, allowing care facilities and mid-level residential care facilities to accept such people more quickly, will provide relief. some pressure, Sununu said.

The measures, approved by the legislative joint tax commission, and taken together:
– Create temporary acute care centers in outpatient surgery centers and other appropriate providers.
– Pay the rehabilitation centers so that they accept EHPAD residents waiting for a bed in an EHPAD at the rehabilitation center rate.
– Create strike teams for long-term care staff to increase the capacity of long-term care facilities that have empty unstaffed beds.

Additionally, the governor, through the Department of Health and Human Services, has submitted a request to FEMA to use the funding to increase access to vaccination and testing sites for COVID-19.

And $ 26 million in federal funding was approved for the upcoming Booster Blitz on December 11.
Health and Human Services Commissioner Lori Shibinette said every day in the state there were between 30 and 50 people in hospital beds who could be transferred to long-term care, but not cannot, mainly because they are not eligible for Medicaid.

This will alleviate the problem and allow the hospital bed to be used by a COVID-19 patient or other intensive care patient by guaranteeing the nursing home that they will be paid regardless of their Medicaid status.

Warmington said she applauded the efforts in dealing with the health care crisis.

She had a technical question about an overall cap on the program and whether there was a mechanism to avoid overcommitment.

He was told they would monitor and be ready to ask for more ARP funds from the governor and council.

CMS waivers are used across the country, and Councilor Janet Stevens, R-Rye, thanked the department for coming up with a creative solution and working long hours over the Thanksgiving period. The vote was unanimous.

The board also unanimously approved a $ 6 million overdue items agenda to provide a strike team to help the hospital’s COVID-19 response.

Councilor Ted Gatsas, R-Manchester, wanted to know the specific rates paid while Councilor David Wheeler, R-Milford, was concerned about hospital policies that require employees to be vaccinated or lose their jobs. He wanted the state to encourage establishments not to require such vaccinations.

Dr Jonathan Ballard, chief medical officer for the Department of Health and Human Services, said the department intended not to supplant employees made redundant due to vaccination status, but to assist with facility needs.

Gatsas asked what’s going on even though at $ 300 an hour the state can’t find anyone to fill the health care positions.

Ballard said he believed it would be successful based on discussions with recruiters.

The state is part of a multi-state pact that allows professionals licensed elsewhere in that pact to be able to work here.

$ 107 million in mental health vans

As of January 1, the state will have 10 mobile crisis units due to an amendment to the contract that the Council approved on Wednesday.

While Gatsas said he could not support him due to concerns about the 8.1% administrative fee, the board voted to authorize AmeriHealth Caritas NH Inc., Philadelphia, PA; Boston Medical Center Health Plan Inc., Charlestown, MA; and Granite State Health Plan Inc., Bedford, NH, to provide health care services to eligible and enrolled Medicaid participants through New Hampshire’s Medicaid managed care program known as NH Medicaid Care Management, increasing the total price of 107,893,151 from $ 3.2 billion to $ 3.3 billion with no change to the August 31, 2024 completion date.

Responsible for health and social services, the state currently has three units and the training of the others is underway. Most centers are staffed and might not have 100 percent staff on day one, but will be able to respond.

Appointments, Confirmations

Council unanimously supported Governor Pradip K. Chattopadhyay’s appointment of Bow to the Public Services Commission, succeeding Kathryn M. Bailey of Bow at an annual salary of $ 126,620.

The Board also approved Mark Attorri of Bow as a judge of the New Hampshire Superior Court and accepted the resignation of Mr. Kristin Spath as a judge of the Circuit Court.

Brattleboro Retreat

The Board approved a $ 684,000 sole-source contract with The Brattleboro Retreat, Brattleboro, Vt., To operate as a designated reception facility providing acute and inpatient psychiatric services to children and youth ages 5-17. years.

Brattleboro will never have more than 10 New Hampshire kids and they have some capacity.

State employees picket

The Council again picked up members of state employee unions with signs asking “FAIR PAY FOR DOT!” And other negotiating groups.

They applauded when Warmington asked Department of Health and Human Services officials why they chose to offer a 30% pay rise to the director of the Medicaid pharmacy rather than including it in a negotiating contract.

Shibinette said when they can’t recruit with the salary grid, they ask for those kinds of improvements through the board.

“I have to work with what I have,” Shibinette said.

Warmington said: “I would suggest the right way to do it is to negotiate,” to applause from SEIU members who attended the meeting.

School debt relief

The council approved a previously filed contract to offer $ 17 million in federal ARP funds to pay off student loan debt. This is an effort to grow and retain New Hampshire’s workforce by reducing or eliminating student debt for eligible participants.

Labor issues have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Warmington asked Taylor Caswell, who runs the GOFERR program, how the program will work and how individuals are selected. Caswell said it will be a first come, first served program for those who qualify.
No specific industry is identified, but every industry in the state needs workers.

Commendations

Tireless volunteers who know the state well and welcome visitors were honored by the meeting.

The Ambassadors is a 501 C 3 non-profit organization that supports tourism in Manchester Visitor Centers and Airport.


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