Nursing home cuts: First battleground for state budget fight
By KEVIN LANDRIGAN
The final state budget fight is more than three months away but NH1 News brings you this preview of coming attractions.
Senate Republicans call Democratic Governor Maggie Hassan an out of control spender, but today the roles are reversed.
``Myself and all the residents where we live, we are absolutely worth it,'' one disabled nursing home resident told the Senate Finance Committee Tuesday.
Hassan supports Health and Human Services Commissioner Nick Toumpas move to erase a budget deficit this year in part through a $7 million cut to nursing homes.
It denies them their first rate increase in more than five years.
Nursing home residents, care workers and administrators pack this hearing room on the bill to restore the cut.
There's Senate Finance Chairman Jeanine Forrester sitting among them to decry the cut as painful if not fatal.
``This has resulted in damaging consequences including n the worst possible outcome, death,'' said Alyssa Gregg with Heritage Case Management.
A leading Democrat protests Republicans aren't letting the managers manage.
``All of a sudden we are second guessing about where they make the cuts,'' said Sen. Andrew Hosmer, D-Laconia.
The Senate's top leader shoots back nursing homes were supposed to be a taboo topic for cuts.
``So we put clarity into the budget that this specific line, it would not be one of the ones to be touched,'' said Senate President Chuck Morse.
Senate Democrats privately defended Hassan's move but when it came time to vote, all five supported the bill restoring the cut.
Like countless others, this budget fight is far from over.