Legislative Liaison Update: July 29, 2020

Legislative bills, which were passed by both the House and the Senate in June, are on the desk of Governor Sununu to sign, veto, or not sign and leave to become law without his signature.

HB1162, an omnibus child protection bill, includes a provision to eliminate copayments and deductibles for Early Supports and Services (ESS) reimbursed to providers by fully insured health plans administered by private health insurance carriers. Consistent with federal law, this bill will not impact self-funded plans or health saving accounts with a qualified high-deductible health plan. Governor Sununu signed that bill into law on July 20.

HB250, which would have provided dental insurance for adults on Medicaid, was vetoed by the Governor, for, as he says, fiscal reasons. Although he supports the concept of adding a dental benefit to adults on Medicaid insurance, he says “I cannot support the bill at this time as the State of New Hampshire is facing historical revenue shortfalls, there is a fiscal necessity to bring our budget into balance….” We are disappointed in the Governor’s decision to veto the bill. However, we are pleased that in his veto message the Governor said he supports an expanded dental benefit. We are also pleased to report that current NH law still mandates the dental benefit be implemented in 2021.

HB1660 was also vetoed. This bill addressed protections afforded to our most vulnerable populations from financial and physical abuses. Governor Sununu vetoed a similar bill last year because he had “concerns that protections available to domestic violence victims would be reduced.” The sponsor of the bill, Sen. Shannon Chandler, argued that the bill “was heavily vetted to ensure that it wouldn’t infringe on the rights and protections of others.”

The large Omnibus bill, which included 38 bills, was made up from a mix of around 200 bills, divided by categories. Governor Sununu vetoed this bill, as well, believing that too many of these bills did not have public hearings. Senate President, Donna Soucy, said that many of these bills were administrative bills, which will affect the continuation of the government; nearly half were sponsored by Republicans.

As everyone knows, this year is an unusual one, fraught with concerns about employment, financial issues, health – mostly due to Covid 19. This has changed the way we conduct our work, our homes, our social activities. I am so impressed by the way MDS staff and leadership have dealt with these changes and with their priority to keep everyone safe. Kudos to all of you for working under these difficult circumstances.

With hope,
Marylouise Alther, Legislative Liaison
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Virtual RWS PhotosWhat a great weekend it was on June 13-14 for folks to get out to run, walk, and smile!

Thanks to all participants, sponsors, and donors for making this virtual RWS event a resounding success in these challenging times. We're pleased to have been able to find a different way to continue the tradition with this 6th annual event.

This year’s contributions came to nearly $12,000 and will fund dental care and emergency help for those with developmental disabilities and their families.

Special thanks go out to our Race Lead Sponsors: Children’s Dental Care; Clark-Mortenson Insurance; the Savings Bank of Walpole; and Raynor Dental.

Co-sponsors were AmeriHealth Caritas; Borislow Insurance; Capitol Center for Oral Surgery; Children’s Dentistry of Dublin; Compass Innovative Behavior Strategies; Eversource; Family Council of the Monadnock Region; Keene Smiles Dental; Mascoma Bank; Mondovi Dental; PIF Technologies; PrintFusion; SymQuest; Ted's Shoe & Sport; and WellSense.

Race partners include All-Ways Accessible; Bowman Dental; Bragdon, Baron & Kossayda, PC; Matthew Cielinski, DMD; Connecticut Valley Oral Surgery; C&S Wholesale Grocers, Hastings Dental Health; HealthPlans, Inc.; The Richards Group; Monadnock Economic Development Corp.; Montshire Pediatric Dentistry; Northeast Delta Dental; Perry Dental; and Welnak Dental.

Project Search Class of 2020Congratulations to the 10th graduating class of Project SEARCH who experienced a first – a virtual graduation! Seven interns have spent the past year gaining employment skills and experience, through classroom instruction, two internships, and a multitude of challenges as the coronavirus swept through the region.

This year’s Project SEARCH interns are Francisco Joel Camuso, Ethan Jennings, Ethan Kelley, Anthony Knight, Kimberly MacKinnon, Garrett Shows, and Frederick Wells.

Project SEARCH is a comprehensive approach to employment training and career advancement for individuals with developmental disabilities. The program provides real world skills training through a series of internships at Cheshire Medical Center, all designed to teach marketable skills that will transfer to a variety of employment settings. Partners include MDS, MCST, Cheshire Medical Center, and NH Vocational Rehabilitation.

At the Zoom session that hosted nearly 100 people, the graduates shared remarks on their Project SEARCH experiences. The SEARCH team then drove to each graduate’s home to deliver their certificates and offer their best wishes on a successful year.

More than 50 students have passed through Project SEARCH, and the majority have gone on to successful paid work. Two of this year’s graduating group are already on their way, having landed jobs at the Keene YMCA and United Natural Foods Inc. (UNFI) in Chesterfield. Our congratulations to all for their accomplishments.

First, our deepest thanks to all of you for the support you have provided to the individuals we serve and to one another. We are truly all in this together. So much has happened over the last few months, and there’s still much we need to do.

We are slowly and cautiously resuming services in this new world. We cannot do this in isolation, and will need to partner with you. Together we can and must continue to keep one another safe.

All MDS staff, including our Individual Service Options (ISO), Monadnock Center for Successful Transitions (MCST), Respite, and In Home Support (IHS) programs are using information from the CDC, NH Public Health, the Governor, as well as local healthcare and community leaders, to guide our decision-making process. This will continue to be the guidance procedure as we move forward. 

Remember, every action and interaction you take can impact the health of someone. One staff person, or one family member who does not follow these guidelines runs the risk of infecting the individuals they are working with. We can only keep each other safe and healthy if we work together and practice the recommendations listed below. As always, as new information is learned, we will adjust our practices and procedures.

On behalf of all of us at MDS, we look forward to being able to gather together again in a safe manner. We cannot do that unless we all do our part. Please be thoughtful of the decisions you make. If you need further information, visit www.cdc.gov or call us at MDS 603-352-1304.

Wear a mask/face cover when you are in public or unable to maintain social distancing.
Wear a cloth face cover in public settings and when around people who don’t live in your household, especially when other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain. 
Wear a cloth face cover when in the community, at family events, visiting friends, etc. Face masks should fit your face well and cover your nose and mouth. If using cloth masks, be sure you wash masks daily.  
Practice social distancing. Social distancing is considered 6 feet apart (about 2 arms’ length).
Remember, you can become infected or spread COVID-19 to others even if you do not feel sick!

Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds.
It’s especially important to wash hands:
* Before eating or preparing food
* Before touching your face
* After using the restroom
* After leaving a public place
* After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
* Before and after handling your cloth face covering
* Before and after changing a diaper
* Before and after assisting someone with personal care
* Before and after caring for someone who is sick
* After touching animals or pets
* If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together for 20 seconds and until they feel dry.
* Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

Practice social distancing. Stay at least 6 feet (about 2 arms’ length) from other people.
Inside your home: Avoid close contact with people who are sick. Wear a mask and if possible, maintain 6 feet
between the sick person and other household members, especially for people at high risk of getting sick. 
Outside your home: Put 6 feet of distance between yourself and people who don’t live in your household.

Remember that some people without symptoms may be able to spread virus.

Clean and disinfect often.
Set a schedule to routinely clean your home and frequently touched surfaces.
Clean AND disinfect frequently touched surfaces several times a day, even if they don’t look dirty. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.
When surfaces are dirty, clean them. Use detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection. Then, use a household disinfectant. Most common household disinfectants will work.


Questions about COVID-19?  CALL 2-1-1 
Phone: 1-866-444-4211   TTY: 603-634-3388

State of NH COVID-19

Centers for Disease Control COVID-19

Face Masks per NH Public Health/DHHS

City of Keene CV Response Site

Cheshire Medical Center CV Site

Monadnock Hospital CV Site

Dartmouth-Hitchcock CV Site

How to Use Zoom Safely

Relias: CV Free Resources & Training for Healthcare Professionals, Families and Individuals

Other Resources

Family Support Resources

Disability Benefits Resources

Employment Resources

Transportation Resources

Housing Resources

NH Family Voices Maneuvering Through the Maze Resource Guide (updated January 2019)
Statewide guide to resources for people with physical, developmental, mental health and chronic health conditions and their families.

Keene Rotary Family Resource Guide (Cheshire County)

The River Center’s FACT Book Online
Local community resource guide for those living in the eastern Monadnock Region.