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Recent Changes to the Affordable Care Act

by Jayme Simoes, President of Louis Karno & Company Communications and NHPHA Communications Committee Co-Chair

The recently passed American Rescue Plan removed an income cap — for two years — for Affordable Care Act health insurance premium tax credits through the federal health exchange in New Hampshire. The amount paid is now limited to 8.5% of income. The $1.9 trillion Covid relief package included changes increasing tax credits through the ACA marketplace for 2021 and 2022, expanding who qualifies for the financial help, and forgiving amounts due by taxpayers who received too much in subsidies last year. A special enrollment period for the exchange — for existing enrollees to switch or for new enrollees to get coverage — is currently open until August 2021.

National Public Health Week 2021

 by Nicole Chute, 

Save the date! NHPHA is joining the American Public Health Association (APHA) in celebrating National Public Health Week (NPHW) from April 5 to 11, 2021. NPHW is a national campaign organized by the APHA to recognize the contributions of public health and celebrate public health efforts in communities across the nation and around the world. This year's theme is ‘Building Bridges to Better Health’.

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Alcohol Misuse Awareness During COVID-19

by Jess Barnett, NHPHA Communications Committee member

April 2021 is Alcohol Awareness Month, a public health program created by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence. While alcohol misuse is an important topic at any time, it remains especially so during the coronavirus pandemic, a time of uncertainty when many seek solace in whatever form is available to them. Even before coronavirus hit, alcohol misuse was a problem affecting people in the U.S. and worldwide. According to a 2019 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), while the rate of alcoholic fatty liver disease (AFLD) among U.S. adults remained stable from 2001 to 2016, the prevalence of AFLD with stage 2 or 3 or greater fibrosis increased significantly, to a rate of 1.5% and 0.2% of adults, respectively, in 2015–2016.

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Inside NHPHA: Welcome to Our New Staff Members

by Lisa Bujno, NHPHA Board President
    
NHPHA recently announced the onboarding of new staff and are excited to move forward over the coming year! As we all know, change is inevitable. NHPHA is poised, at this juncture, to change, grow, and build on the foundation that was developed over the last several years. As this is my last article as Board President, I wanted to introduce our new leaders and invite members to connect and welcome them to NHPHA.

April Mottram, NHPHA’s new Executive Director, comes to us from the North Country Health Consortium where she served as the Center Director for the Northern New Hampshire Area Health Education Center, Director of the North Country Public Health Network, and Executive Director for the Region 7 Integrated Delivery Network. These experiences make April a natural choice to lead NHPHA. Our focus on workforce development and coalition support are vital as New Hampshire continues to work through the COVID pandemic. April’s expertise in developing health education programming and her work successfully bringing together a wide variety of stakeholders in both the Public Health Network and IDN projects will ensure that NHPHA programs can move forward with confidence and grow as needs evolve. I’ve known April through my work at Ammonoosuc Community Health Services and have found her to be a thoughtful and insightful leader with a true passion for public health work.

Tara Graham, NHPHA’s new Immunization Coalition Coordinator, comes to us with a wealth of experience in healthcare administration and management and demonstrated skill in facilitating groups to achieve a goal. Tara also currently serves as Program Coordinator at Communities for Alcohol and Drug-Free Youth. Her work developing relationships, leading meetings, engaging collaborative input from group members, and facilitating consensus and collaborative strategic planning and operations will help assure the success of the New Hampshire Immunization Coalition! I’ve known Tara for just a short time but am already impressed with her energy and ability to organize and move a project forward.

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NH Food Access Coalition Update

by Tiffany Dodier

SB98 relative to the SNAP incentive program has passed unanimously out of the Senate. It was introduced in the House of Representatives and referred to the House Health and Human Services Committee. Our partners are actively working to contact legislators to advocate in support of this bill. SNAP incentives are shown in multiple studies to increase fruit and vegetable purchasing and consumption as well as reduce food access disparities and improve diet quality. Furthermore, the program funnels federal dollars directly into the local economy to NH farmers and independent grocers. Estimates suggest that every federal nutrition assistance dollar spent produces $1.50-1.75 in local economic activity. The return on this program is likely higher given the spending stipulations.

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State of New Hampshire Launches Vaccine & Immunization Network Interface (VINI)

by Lynne Clement, Communications Specialist, DPHS

Excerpt from Governor Sununu’s press release dated March 16, 2021 (https://www.governor.nh.gov/news-and-media/state-new-hampshire-launch-vini-begin-phase-2a-scheduling)

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We Are Public Health April 2021

by Lisa Vasquez, NHPHA Communications Committee Co-Chair

In New Hampshire, Public Health programs and activities are often made possible through collaboration. Collaboration is important for many reasons such as increasing staff capacity and increasing the reach of public health. An example of increased reach has been the statewide initiative of lead testing for all children at 1 and 2 years of age. This program would not be able to reach as many children as it has since implementation without pediatrician involvement but it goes far beyond pediatricians to also reach families that may not have healthcare and/or access to a pediatrician.

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National DEA Takeback Day

by Lisa Vasquez, NHPHA Communications Committee Co-Chair

Every year for the past few years the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has sponsored the National Take Back Day. This is a collaboration between the DEA, local Police departments, public health networks and other community partners. This event takes place twice a year once in the fall and once in the spring. The spring event takes place this month April 24th, 2021 from 9AM – 2PM. The National Take Back Day is a great opportunity to safely dispose of unwanted or unused medications.

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COVID-19 Equity Task Force Update: March 2021

by Andrea Guzman, Workforce Development Coordinator, and Trinidad Tellez

The New Hampshire COVID-19 Equity Task Force was convened in March of 2020 in response to the rapid spread of COVID-19 across the state and country. During that time, it became increasingly clear that it would be critical to address issues of equity arising from the COVID-19 pandemic and response. The Task Force has met since March 27, 2020 with close to 60 individuals consistently participating, and new participants joining regularly. Members include individual community members and leaders, local community based organizations, non-profit and advocacy organizations, as well as state and municipal government staff. The group transitioned from a weekly meeting to meeting semi-monthly in July 2020. With a continued strong showing after one year of meeting tirelessly to respond to the urgency of needs, the group is continuously evolving, remembering to intentionally center equity in how it operates, looking forward to formalizing principles of partnership and form a community-centered Advisory Council. 

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NHPHA Virtual Career Panel

by Andrea Guzman, Workforce Development Coordinator

The New Hampshire Public Health Association is excited to share that it will be holding a Virtual Career Panel on April 7th at 3:30 p.m. Many students and early career professionals in New Hampshire have expressed an increased interest in public health, so the NHPHA is enthusiastically working with our panelists to portray what a career in public health can look like and how to get there. We are proud to be collaborating with panelists:

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What About Workforce? April 2021 Update

by Andrea Guzman, Workforce Development Coordinator

Since the Mentor Program is virtual this year, we have been able to add some additional and optional programming. The Mentor Program was able to come together in early March for a training with Jess Wojenski of New Futures to learn more about how policy impacts daily life, how policy change occurs, and what advocacy is (and isn’t). The training also included information about New Hampshire's legislature including why it is unique and how your voice can make a difference. We then went over advocacy skills including how to be an effective advocate, and best practices and advice on common ways of advocating.

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We Are Public Health: COVID-19 Vaccine 10% Equity Allocation

by: Lisa Vasquez, NHPHA Communication Committee Co-Chair

New Hampshire has allocated 10% of COVID-19 vaccinations that come into the state for underserved populations as an effort to address inequity in vaccine distribution. This decision was made looking at the COVID-19 social vulnerability index which highlights how underserved populations have been disproportionally impacted by COVID-19, hospitalization and death due to COVID-19 complications. The equity allotment will be distributed through the regional public health networks.

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Workforce Development Update: February 2021

by: Andrea Guzman, Workforce Development Coordinator

Mentor Program
On February 10, the NHPHA Public Health Mentor Program met again for the first time since October. We began the day with a presentation by Southern New Hampshire University  Director of Diversity Programs, Kayla Page, who spoke with the group about defining, reflecting, and working toward cultural integration. Participants said they enjoyed the presentation and wished they had more time. NHPHA was able to get great feedback about how the program is going so far. Mentors have helped mentees with job applications, mock interviews, networking opportunities for mentees with their colleagues, as well as guidance through professional and personal changes as we all adjust our plans due to Covid-19. The day ended with an opportunity for mentees to get to know other mentors, and make additional professional connections. Going forward, the mentor program will be expanding with additional options for meetings and activities. In early March there will be a training for the program with New Futures about policy and advocacy, and an additional training in April, before we all come back together again for the Celebration in May.

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March is National Colorectal Awareness Month!

by: Lynne Clement

Colorectal cancer refers to cancer in the colon and/or rectum, or both. Most colorectal cancers develop first as polyps, which are abnormal growths inside the colon or rectum that may later become cancerous if they are not removed. Colorectal cancer is very treatable when it is discovered early.

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Special Enrollment Period for Health Insurance

by: Jayme Simoes, NHPHA Communications Committee Co-Chair

Under an Executive Order issued by President Biden, a Special Enrollment Period (SEP) for New Hampshire individuals and families for Marketplace healthcare insurance coverage will is running from February 15, 2021 and through May 15, 2021. Under this special enrollment period New Hampshire is one of 38 states covered by the federal exchange.

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NH Food Access Coalition March 2021 Update

by: Tiffany Dodier

The NH Food Access Coalition was able to celebrate its first success in the month of February for its work to support passage of senate bill 98, relative to the SNAP incentive program, out of the NH Senate Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs Committee with a 5-0 vote. This bill makes $150,000 of appropriations for the biennium ending June 30, 2023 to implement SNAP incentive programs. These programs give beneficiaries of SNAP a dollar-for-dollar match for fresh fruits and vegetables at participating farmer's markets, farm stands, mobile markets, community supported agriculture sites, grocery stores, or other participating direct food retailers.

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NHPHA Legislative Policy Update

by: Joan Ascheim, Former NHPHA Executive Director with contributions from JJ Smith and Tiffany Dodier

Members of the NHPHA policy committee have been active meeting with members of the legislature, the governor’s office and with partners in support of our policy agenda.  We have provided testimony on our priority bills and others bills of importance to public health.   A summary of actions and bill status follows. 

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Inside NHPHA: Endurance and Leadership

by: Lisa Bujno

Last March I said to a coworker, who was working long hours to prepare for the impending COVID 19 pandemic, “Keep in mind, this is going to be a marathon, not a sprint”. Of course, it felt like a sprint at the time but as the months unfolded, the stress of the pandemic response marathon was evident throughout the healthcare and public health systems. At some point the initial adrenalin subsided but we kept going. Now we are working hard to deploy COVID vaccine to the population – another long haul and another leg in this crazy race.

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NH Food Access Coalition February 2021 Update

by Tiffany Dodier

The NH Food Access Coalition is full speed ahead with its efforts to increase access to nutritious affordable food for those most in need in NH. We already have a call to action for NHPHA members in sending letters of support for key legislation that will increase access to fresh fruits and vegetables for SNAP participants in NH.

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We Are Public Health: Teen Dating Violence

by Lisa Vasquez, Co-Chair, NHPHA Communications Committee

February is National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month. Teen dating violence doesn’t just affect teens; it affects families and communities as well. It is important to talk with teens about the signs of dating violence, including not just physical violence. Talk with them about what constitutes a healthy relationship. Discuss with your teens how unhealthy relationships may be portrayed on television shows and movies as well as other media forms. Create open communication with your teen so that they can feel comfortable talking to you about any issues that they may have. Teen dating violence has long-lasting repercussions in the lives of those who experience it. Teens who experience dating violence may have higher experiences of substance use, suicide attempts, and other mental health–related illnesses later in life. Teens who experience dating violence may also take those unhealthy patterns in relationships into other relationships later in life. Adolescents ages 12 to 19 experience a high rate of sexual and physical assaults. It is important to talk with our adolescents about this issue to prevent it, and in cases where it is occurring, services are available. The best way to stop teen dating violence is to talk about it and make sure our teens are informed and have the healthy skills necessary to have healthy relationships. As they are teenagers, those early relationships will shape the future of how they see themselves in relation to others.

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