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Apr 8, 2015 12:00 AM

Landrigan: Seniors protest use of $7 million of nursing home money to balance NH budget


CONCORD - Governor Maggie Hassan took $7 million meant for nursing and home care for seniors to balance this year's budget.

Residents and administrators turned out in force today to try and keep that from ever happening again.

Senate President Chuck Morse, R-Salem, reacted angrily in February when he learned Hassan was using that money due to a large deficit in the Department of Health and Human Services.

Legislative leaders in both parties had thought these monies could not be touched thanks to a state law the Legislature adopted a decade ago.

But Attorney General Joe Foster ruled Hassan was entitled to use take and use that cash as long as it was because the Department of Health and Human Services budget was in financial trouble.

"The governor found a hole in the fence and jumped through it,'' quipped House Finance Chairman Neal Kurk, R-Weare.

The Senate overwhelmingly passed a bill that would close that loophole and the measure (SB 8) faced its final public hearing today.

"Please reinstate $7 million so and the rest of my fellow nursing home residents can rest assured knowing the quality of care we require will be there when we need it,'' said Andrew Elcik, a resident of a Portsmouth nursing home.

Marie Miller lives in an assisted living apartment in Windham and said it's unfair to take that money meant to support staff at places like hers.

"They do an awful lot for us and everybody that is there and I would like to say that they need to put this money back,'' Miller said.

The House is expected to adopt this bill but it is possible Governor Hassan could choose to veto it.

The Senate passed it, 16-8, by enough votes to override such a veto.


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