Senator Hassan calls for more affordable care for New Hampshire seniors in Manchester roundtable

Senator Maggie Hassan this week convened a roundtable discussion with advocates, caregivers, and healthcare leaders to address the ongoing challenge of making healthcare affordable and accessible for New Hampshire seniors. (Colin Booth/Granite Post)

By Colin Booth

March 19, 2024

Senator Maggie Hassan this week convened a roundtable discussion with advocates, caregivers, and healthcare leaders to address the ongoing challenge of making healthcare affordable and accessible for New Hampshire seniors.

Speaking at the roundtable—which was co-hosted by AARP New Hampshire and took place at Easterseals NH, a service provider for individuals with disabilities and special needs—Hassan highlighted legislative progress that has been made through laws like the Inflation Reduction Act to lower prescription drug and healthcare costs. She specifically noted provisions that cap insulin prices at $35 per month for seniors and allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices, which are already resulting in some cost savings for beneficiaries.

Christina FitzPatrick, State Director for AARP NH, said that 32,000 people in New Hampshire rely on the first 10 drugs that Medicare will negotiate prices for, and said savings brought about by price negotiations will affect more than 241,000 people in New Hampshire who are on Medicare Part D

“Medicare spends $129 billion a year on prescription drugs… That’s a lot of purchasing power. And the idea that the government can’t use that purchasing power to negotiate better prices just is absurd,” FitzPatrick said.

Hassan was pointed in her criticism of drug companies for scheming to keep drug prices high.

“Even as we’ve made progress with these laws, the drug companies—some of the drug companies—are still fighting us. Some of them are currently suing the government to try to prevent Medicare from negotiating drug prices. And big pharmaceutical companies, also some of them, continue to game the patent system to keep prices sky high,” Hassan said.

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New Hampshire is home to the second oldest population in the country, with over 20% of the population currently over 65. That number is expected to grow past 26% by 2030.

Advocates at the roundtable said more must still be done to rein in pharmaceutical companies that continue raising prices beyond inflation or blocking generic competition. Hassan pledged to pursue bipartisan bills to close these loopholes.

Roundtable participants discussed the daily struggles that many seniors and their families face affording housing, healthcare, foo,d and other basic needs. Caregivers described the difficulties of balancing work responsibilities with caring for ill or disabled loved ones.

“My father in law passed away this past September and it was unthinkable. It’s unthinkable what we had to pay out of pocket to help him through the last days of his life,” said Susan Silsby, Executive Vice President of Programs for Easterseals NH.

Healthcare leaders at the meeting outlined models for improving coordination of senior services and expanding affordable housing, care, and support within communities. 

Hassan committed to ongoing efforts to reform the system and recognize caregivers for their vital roles, and promoted bipartisan proposals to provide a $5,000 tax credit for family caregivers and strengthen home and community-based services.

Author

  • Colin Booth

    Based in Epsom, Colin Booth is Granite Post's political correspondent. A Granite State native and veteran political professional with a deep background in journalism, he's worked on campaigns and programs in battleground states across the country, ranging from New Hampshire, Texas, Pennsylvania and Washington D.C.

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