Viewpoint

At long last, MCH is in the marketplace

The Affordable Care Act and the N.H. Health Protection Plan created opportunities for citizens of New Hampshire to be covered by health insurance who were previously uninsured. As the community hospital that provides care in this region, we saw this as a positive move. The rollout was bumpy at times and was especially disruptive for those patients whose physicians were not included in the 2014 Anthem plan, which was the only plan offered under the Affordable Care Act in New Hampshire.

Anthem chose not to include many New Hampshire hospitals in their network and unfortunately, we were not given the opportunity to participate. This decision put unnecessary strain on patients and families who had to change doctors and travel further for their care.

We are pleased to announce that Monadnock Community Hospital has signed a contract with Harvard Pilgrim Health Care to be included in any insurance plans they offer in the Affordable Care Act marketplace. This will include all Monadnock Community Hospital services and the services of our employed physicians and health care providers. Individuals who would like to switch their coverage to Harvard Pilgrim will be able to enroll in a variety of policies for both individuals and small businesses in November 2014, effective Jan 1, 2015. We are fortunate that there are now multiple options for members of our community and we are able to welcome patients who have coverage through the ACA. All of our primary care offices are accepting new patients.

The N.H. Health Protection Plan, a program that will extend private health insurance coverage to as many as 50,000 low-income, uninsured New Hampshire residents, passed the State Legislature in June 2014. We would like to applaud the health care administrators, physicians, community advocates and legislators across the state whose dedication and collaboration enabled the passing of the Health Protection Plan. Using only federal dollars, the Health Protection Plan will help us to improve the health and well-being of our community through improved access to preventative care and will help to reduce the number of patients who require uncompensated care, which currently defaults to our Patient Financial Assistance Program, or becomes bad debt. Qualified low-income residents can begin applying for insurance through the Health Protection Plan on July 1, 2014 and coverage will begin on Aug. 15, 2014. This is great news for Monadnock region families!

We will continue to advocate on behalf of our community to do whatever is necessary to keep access to high-quality health care services close to home. As health-care reform continues, it is essential to work together as hospitals and health care providers to find ways to collaborate so that we maximize our efforts, always keeping patient care our primary focus.

Cynthia K. McGuire, president and CEO of Monadnock Community Hospital, is a fellow with the American College of Healthcare Executives.

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