Ed McDonough, GateHouse Treatment CEO and our very own Hope Dealer brings on Aly McKnight this week from New Futures and Friends of New Hampshire Drug Court. Aly is the training director at New Futures which is a non-partisan non-profit organization that advocates, collaborates and educates to promote health and wellness in all of those in New Hampshire.
New Futures doesn’t just focus on substance abuse disorders and mental health, they advocate for health and wellness issues with early childhood issues and childhood behavioral health. Preventative measures when dealing with children is another substantial issue that New Futures is progressively working on. They work with policy experts all over the state, collect extensive background information and start campaigns based off the statistics, what they hear in the communities from other organizations they’re in partnership with and make the appropriate campaigns. Again, one of the substantial issues that New Futures is advocating for is the Medicaid Expansion Reauthorization for the state of New Hampshire.
The Medicaid Expansion Reauthorization (MER) from 2014 has approximately 52,000 people enrolled for health insurance Aly pointed out that, not everyone enrolled is using Medicaid for substance abuse disorders or mental health issues. There is also a large population of elderly citizens who don’t yet qualify for Medicare or their Social Security, so they need coverage after they retire before they’re eligible for other benefits.
One of the challenges of getting support behind the MER is the stereotype of those who are on Medicaid. Although it is incredibly beneficial for other programs that are already in place such as drug court, approximately 90% of the people on drug court who are coming out of jails and prisons don’t have health insurance. In drug court you are required to attend Outpatient services on top of court, paying restitution, probation fees and any other fines and fees they may have. While most people are concerned about their tax dollars going to fund health care for criminals, most of these people in drug court are people struggling with substance abuse disorders and mental health diagnoses. Without Medicaid, they wouldn’t be able to receive the necessary treatment, and drug courts would end up failing due to the lack of success within the.
Aly is sure to point out that most of the people who are on Medicaid eventually end up getting private health insurance. The amount of people who were enrolled in Medicaid and they don’t need to reenroll is referred to as the churn. Most of the stereotype and stigma that comes with those on Medicaid is that they’re lazy and want free health care necessarily. That’s not the case with a significant amount of those enrolled. It is usually used to bridge between not being able to afford health insurance and working and saving enough to afford health insurance due to the coverage offered through Medicaid.
New Futures is in partnership with over 20 organizations that held a rally at the statehouse on May 2nd, and it was to help advocate for the MER. Many organizations are behind this because it is for the good of their communities and New Hampshire is considered a poorer state where people could benefit hugely from the reauthorization. If the reauthorization goes through this year in legislation, it will be in place for five years giving more opportunity to see how this Medicaid expansion has worked for nine years instead of using the statistic from 4 years.
Another significant part of what New Futures does it work in implementing early childhood development infrastructures because they heavily focus on prevention. Initial childhood support from the ages of 0-6 is crucial for the prevention of mental health and substance abuse disorders later in life. Pointed out in the Adverse Childhood Experience Study that a certain amount of adverse experiences as a young child such as domestic violence in the house, substance abuse in the home, or the loss of a parent at a young age directly correlates to substance abuse disorders and mental health diagnoses later in life. Affecting another generation and perpetuating the substance abuse epidemic across the country currently and those struggling with mental health. Aly touches on how investing a dollar into prevention now, turns into saving 11 dollars in the future.
Aly and Ed both encourage talking to the local legislation and using personal experience to get them behind initiatives that need the support. Most of the struggle with getting support behind these things is that the battle isn’t personal enough to them. Being removed from an issue is much easier when it hasn’t touched your life, or you aren’t going through the struggles. If you want more information on getting involved in upcoming New Futures events, visit their website at new-futures.org.