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Bob Odell
State Senator
District 8


October 30, 2011

Senator Odell is Chairman of  the Ways and Means Committee; Chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee; Vice Chairman of the Finance Committee; Vice Chairman of the State Parks Advisory Council; and member of the  Capital Budget Committee.

Senate District 8 towns: Acworth, Alstead, Charlestown, Claremont, Gilsum, Goshen, Langdon, Lempster, Marlow, New London, Newbury, Newport, Roxbury, Stoddard, Sullivan, Sunapee, Sutton, Unity, Walpole, Washington and Westmoreland.

 

When I was a senior in high school, decisions needed to be made to see if I was going to college and if the answer was yes, where would I go.

I wanted to get as far away from home as feasible but my mother said I should go to Keene Normal School, the name of Keene State College in my mother’s youth, and become a high school history teacher. It did not work out that way and I went away to Washington, DC, to study economics.

My mother knew history was my favorite subject from my earliest days. That interest continues. A few days ago I went to a meeting of the Stoddard Historical Society to hear a presentation by Greg Knouff on the loyalists or Tories, or as Professor Knouff suggests, "disaffected" people of New Hampshire, who were not fully supportive of the Revolutionary War effort.

Professor Knouff zeroed in on one person from Stoddard and one person from Nelson. Both ended up being jailed for disloyalty but one returned to Stoddard, where he lived for a number of years before moving to Maine. The other man got out of jail, but was so angry with his treatment by New Hampshire revolutionary leaders that he joined up with the British army. He fought against his fellow countrymen, was wounded and escaped to Nova Scotia.

Both men had been accused of disloyalty by their fellow townspeople sitting on local committees of safety. Professor Knouff believes local politics and the settling of personal scores often drove the accusations by the committees of safety. I have simplified the story here, but history always has a trove of treasures and new information that often brings to light human behavior that is repeated over and over again by new generations who do not heed the lessons of the past.

One week it was Stoddard for some local history. Last week, I was in London for the 28th annual International Churchill Centre Conference. Over the last 20 years, I have attended Churchill conferences in the United States and Canada and always hoped when a conference was set for London I would be able to attend.

A Churchill conference is not for everyone. But to have the chance to immerse yourself in the time of Winston Churchill (1874-1965) and especially the two world wars, and the Cold War that defined the last century, was a special treat for me.

In addition to the lectures, I also had a long awaited chance for a walking tour of "Churchill’s London" with his official biographer, Martin Gilbert. It was a three hour walk for about 25 of us around the governmental center of London with stops to highlight significant points in Churchill’s career and the historical impact of his actions.

There was also a trip to Kent in the south of England to tour Churchill’s beloved home, Chartwell. Churchill had bought it in 1922 without telling his wife. She never cared for the house but it was their home for most of the next 43 years. Every step and everything you see ties back to his life and especially World War II, the battle for Britain, D-Day and the defeat of Hitler.

Churchill had an admonition to the generations that would follow him: "Study history." And last week, he was the central character being studied as likely the most significant personality of the 20th century by a couple of hundred of his devotees.

*

Even thousands of miles away on a vacation, the Internet makes it difficult to miss news flowing from home. Two snow storms, for example, drew my attention. And the last week’s daily reports showed that state revenue in October will be close and may exceed our budget goal.

Apart from the state contribution to fund public education, Medicaid spending for the care for eligible poor and disabled is our largest expenditure line. Since it was created in the 1960’s, Medicaid has been a shared program between the federal and state governments. The federal stimulus program over the last couple of years increased Washington’s share of Medicaid costs and helped reduce costs to the states.

That extra spending provided by the federal government ended a couple of months ago. Many states now are caught in a bind. The number of people qualifying for aid is rising, increasing the states’ financial exposure.

States, under federal rules, cannot change who is eligible. A state can eliminate benefits, reduce payments to hospitals and doctors and increase co-pays even as the program is serving poor people. A Kaiser Family Foundation survey of state officials released last week found states had to increase Medicaid spending by nearly 30 percent. That kind of spending at the state level is tough… it is a budget breaker.

Blaming the current state budget for decreased Medicaid reimbursements, two hospitals have announced reductions in charity care they will provide in the future. And the Lakes Region’s largest health care provider, LRGHealthcare in Laconia, announced last week that they are dropping 3,500 Medicaid patients from their patient rolls.

What will happen to these patients? They would not be on Medicaid if they had insurance or money to pay for their care. This is another salvo in the continuing struggle between the state and hospitals over reimbursements for uncompensated care. Obviously, there is plenty of work again for legislators.

 

Bob Odell
State Senator
New Hampshire State House
107 North Main Street
Concord, NH 03301-4951

Telephone:  603-271-6733
Email:  rpojr@aol.com

 

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