HB1655-FN seeks to expand the DHHS purchase of vaccines to include all adult vaccines and to supply them to CVS, Walgreens, RiteAid, etc. without charge. They would then bill insurance consumers through the NH Vaccine Association for all costs.
That presumably includes the cost of the vaccines, administrative services, donations, legal fees, and at least four new DHHS employees to help mismanage it all.
In other words, it sounds like the state would expand its power, grow the cost of government, and the result could be higher insurance costs for New Hampshire citizens.
To back these concerns we have hearing testimony provided to us by Laura Condon, who spent five years as a member of the Board of the NH Vaccine Association. A position that afforded her access as a member of the auditing committee to the practices of DHHS regarding the handling of federal program dollars and vaccines for children provided by the CDC.
You can read her full testimony here and should. The financial mismanagement is clearly a concern. But she also asks many pertinent questions that should be answered before your representatives hand over any more money or power to NH-DHHS.
I became aware of the serious issue of state-supplied vaccine waste and cover up when I was contacted by Valley News reporter Rick Jurgens in February of 2016 doing an investigation into a huge vaccine loss at Alice Peck Day Memorial Hospital in Lebanon. He did the investigation into this mishandling and storage of vaccines that occurred from August 2014 to October 2015 involving over 800 children, thousands of doses of vaccines, and millions of dollars. These were all vaccines supplied “free” by DHHS and paid for through the Vaccine Association. DHHS became aware of record keeping and vaccine storage issues in August 2015, but the public was not alerted to the problem of compromised vaccines until five months later in a letter to patients issued on January 11, 2016
- What was done with vaccines that were compromised? There are no answers.
- What was the value of the vaccines that were wasted? There are no answers.
- How many patients were re-vaccinated and what was the cost of those vaccines? There are no answers.
- Was Alice Peck Day Hospital ever required to report on the waste of the vaccines and the costs they incurred to revaccinate or replace vaccines? No, they were not.
- How do we know that Alice Peck Day paid anything towards the replacement of vaccines? We don’t know.
- How do we know that Alice Peck Day didn’t simply take more vaccines from the state supply of “free” vaccines to re-vaccinate children? We don’t know.
As Laura notes in her testimony, the state must first demonstrate that it can manage the children’s vaccine program before looking to expand this to include adult vaccines. Without a full audit and accounting of the problems we have, it makes very little sense to expand their ability for greater acts of incompetence.
And while I happen to think vaccines are important, I’m wary of the implications of this legislation. My quick review of the materials and I confess it was quick, set off a few alarms. It might be a good idea for the committee to invest additional time in examining this proposal a greater length because there is no such thing as free.
And New Hampshire’s history of meddling with the health insurance marketplace is lousy.
The subcommittee meeting work session is tomorrow 02/18/2020 10:00 am LOB 205. It is not a hearing but you may have time to read the bill and the provided testimony and email committee members with any thoughts or concerns.
Note: We’d be happy to publish counterpoint testimony that addresses these or other concerns about the bill the state taking on more responsibility in this area, or your support for the expansion.
Laura Condon contributed to this report.
Clarification: Laura spent five years serving as a member of the Board of the NH Vaccine Association. The text has been corrected.