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Forrester honored for nursing home legislation

October 17, 2012
MEREDITH — Sen. Jeanie Forrester was honored by the New Hampshire Healthcare Association last week for her legislative efforts to reform the Medicaid process for nursing homes.

On Tuesday, Forrester was given the Carl Johnson Legislative Service Award at a ceremony at Golden View Health Care Center.

NHCCA Chair David Getts said the award is given to a legislator the organization believes has done "remarkable work" on behalf of nursing homes and assisted care facilities.

Forrester was especially recognized for her efforts on SB321, which established a committee to examine the continuation of payments to long term care facilities.

Many people who go into nursing homes and long-term care facilities apply for Medicaid, which results in a long process to determine the patients' eligibility and examine their financial records. While eligibility is being determined, and in cases where eligibility is denied, the patient is to remain in the care facility. This often results in patients staying for free for months to years.

"Sen. Forrester realized that this is an unsustainable situation and that it could have grave repercussions for facilities and their residents," Getts said. "As a result, she not only sponsored the bill to find ways to fix this problem, but she chaired the committee created by that bill and she also has done a great amount of work behind the scenes to try to generate a solution."

The committee's final report recommended a series of reforms for this process, including requiring that nursing homes be paid within 45 days of the submission of the Medicaid application, even if eligibility has not been determined. Others include considering allowing nursing homes to file undue hardship on behalf of their patients; allow for more transparency in the Medicaid process; introduce legislation for nursing homes to recover funds lost because of the application of the asset transfer penalty; and a number of others, mostly related to the review process.

Forrester submitted this report with efforts by committee members, including Senators Jeb Bradley and Tom DeBlois and Representatives John Cebrowski, Laurie Harding, and Donald LeBrun.

"The people who live and work here at Golden View, and their families, as well as people who live and work in long term care facilities around the state, owe Sen. Forrester a debt of gratitude," Getts said.

Getts also noted how in her first term in Concord, Forrester "has marked herself as a thoughtful and courteous legislator, greatly attentive to her constituents, and respected by her colleagues on both sides of the aisle."

The award was named for the late District 2 Senator Carl Johnson of Meredith.

"Many of you will remember Carl and Carl's wife Jeannette, who resided here for a while," Getts said. "Carl was the consummate gentleman and a great legislator, and we think that Sen. Forrester is a perfect choice to receive this award because she is following in Carl's path by serving the people of New Hampshire, and especially her constituents here at Golden View, with intelligence, dignity and class."

Johnson's son, Carl Johnson, Jr., was also present at the event.

Forrester said nursing homes are of great importance to her and she said she knows how important they are to the state. Forrester said the legislation and the committee was a collaborative effort with everyone working together. Forrester also sits on the board of the Visiting Nurse's Association and noted the work that they do.

"I'm very proud to receive this honor," Forrester said.

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