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N.H. managed care transition worries caregivers

New Hampshire’s switch to a managed care system for its Medicaid program won’t affect long-term care services for developmentally disabled recipients until next year, but some recipients and their advocates already are worried about the coming changes.

Under the new system, three private companies will manage benefits for the state. In the first year, the changes affect medical services like doctor’s visits and procedures, but next year the state plans to add the coordination of long-term care services such as housing supports and aides.

Stu Wallace, whose son has autism and lives in a group home in Plymouth, has joined a lawsuit asking courts to rule on whether the Legislature intended to include the developmentally disabled community in the new system.

“If my son’s needs have nothing to do with medical care . . . why in the world would it make sense for his entire life to be managed by an out-of-state health insurance company,” he told New Hampshire Public Radio. “We have a system we as parents and guardians have put together for 30 years, and now it is being replaced by something that is undefined.”

State officials said they are reaching out to recipients and caregivers to write appropriate rules for next year. Gov. Maggie Hassan, whose 25-year-old son has severe physical disabilities and receives some services paid by Medicaid, also is playing a key role. “The law that established managed care was passed, and legal contracts are in place,” she said. “So we need to move forward, and take advantage of the opportunity that this provides to improve care.”

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