ICYMI – Shaheen Leads NH Delegation in Press Conference with Granite State Health Care Providers Urging Executive Council to End Political Standoff and Approve Critical COVID Vaccine Funds

October 26, 2021

Shaheen & the NH Congressional Delegation Fought to Secure Robust Federal Assistance for NH to Utilize for COVID Response

(Washington, DC) – Yesterday, U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Representatives Annie Kuster (NH-02) and Chris Pappas (NH-01) held a virtual press conference with health care stakeholders to discuss the consequences of the New Hampshire Executive Council’s decision to reject $27 million in federal vaccine funding.

The delegation’s press event was in response to the Republican-controlled Executive Council, which doubled down on its partisan vote two weeks ago to reject federal funding that’s already been allocated to New Hampshire to bolster the state’s vaccination efforts. The delegation discussed how this rejection of critical funds hampers efforts across the state to turn the page on this crisis, particularly as COVID cases and hospitalizations continue to surge in New Hampshire.

More on that below:

WMUR: NH congressional delegation urges Executive Council to 'do their jobs' and accept vaccine funds

New Hampshire's all-Democratic federal delegation teamed up Monday to blast the Republicans on the council, saying the money they have left in limbo should be put to use to save lives.

"We've done our job," said U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-New Hampshire. "The federal delegation got the money that the state of New Hampshire said it needed. And when the federal government wasn't forthcoming with what the state said it needed, we went back and got those additional funds. Now, it's time for the governor and the Republican executive councilors to do their jobs and protect the health and safety of the people of this state."

 

Union Leader: NH delegation slams Executive Council vote on COVID-19 grants

New Hampshire’s all-Democratic congressional delegation called “reckless,” “dangerous,” and “shameful” the Republican-led Executive Council’s decision to turn down $27 million in federal grants for the COVID-19 vaccine…

 

Associated Press: Health Officials Criticize Rejection of Vaccine Funding

Jim Potter, executive vice president of the New Hampshire Medical Society, said pediatricians “desperately need” the money to begin vaccinating children.

“You’re going to have parents who are going to be delayed months in getting their kids vaccinated,” Potter said. “This is not so much about the rights of some individuals, it’s simply denying access to care to what I would say is the majority of parents of children who want the vaccine.”

 

NHPR: New Hampshire’s congressional delegation says Executive Council should reconsider federal aid rejection

“We need the dollars, in terms of giving vaccines, but also in terms of educating,” said Dr. Don Caruso, CEO of Cheshire Medical Center in Keene. “There are people out there who I believe are still educable, who will move forward with a lot of information.”

Whether Sununu can muster enough support for the rejected funding to make another attempt at getting in through the council is an open question. His office did not respond to questions about whether he plans to resubmit the contract before the council.

But Sen. Jeanne Shaheen says, while the delegation will continue to work in Washington to ensure the state has the resources to fight COVID, the problem is one Sununu needs to solve in Concord.

 

New Hampshire Bulletin: Health care providers slam Executive Council for rejecting $27 million for vaccination efforts

Don Caruso, CEO and president of Cheshire Medical Center/Dartmouth-Hitchcock Keene, said hospital leaders in some parts of the state are meeting daily, sometimes twice a day, to find other locations in the state with available intensive care beds because people are extremely sick. 

A lot of the different regions have actually cut back their elective care to accommodate,” Caruso said. “The hospitals are using every tool that they have to manage this.” 

He said expanding the number of vaccinated Granite Staters with the support of the $27 million was the tool they needed most. “In my mind, what the Executive Council did was a travesty,” he said.

 

InDepthNH: Congressional Delegation, Health-Care Leaders Criticize Rejecting $27M Vaccine Funds

U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and the all-Democratic New Hampshire congressional delegation joined with health care leaders across the state in a Monday Zoom press conference to call out the Oct. 13 vote by Republican Executive Councilors Joe Kenney, Janet Stevens, Ted Gatsas, and David Wheeler to reject the funding based on what she called misinformation.

They said this is not a time for the state to be turning down such important funds and warned the consequences may mean a delay by months for state vaccinations for 125,000 teens who may be eligible for a vaccine and the state rollout of booster shots.

She noted accepting the money does not mean the state will require mandates to take the vaccines and the decision to reject the funding, fueled by angry protesters, was based on misinformation.

Ken Gordon, chief executive officer of Coos County Family Health Services, called the vote “an emotional gut-punch” for the health care community which is struggling with the highest hospitalization rates since last January.

 

Seacoast Online: Doctors, Dems blast NH Council for rejecting COVID vaccine funds. Rye's councilor responds

At Wentworth-Douglass Hospital in Dover, over 90% of patients who have tested positive for COVID-19 and require emergent care have not been vaccinated against the coronavirus.

That figure comes from Martha Wassell, director of infection prevention at WDH, one of a number of New Hampshire medical experts and members of the state’s congressional delegation to criticize the state Executive Council’s recent decision to reject $27 million in federal funding dedicated toward statewide vaccination efforts.

That consistently high inpatient census has challenged our committed and skilled hospital team,” Wassell said Monday. “But they’re professionals. And, like all health care professionals, and our patients, they need and deserve the direct benefit and relief of these federal funds, which could be used… and will certainly help to reduce the burden that our stressed, exhausted health care team (is) experiencing.”

 

Seacoast Current: Shaheen to Executive Council on COVID Funds: ‘Do Your Job’

"It's very disappointing to me that we are here after the congressional delegation fought very hard to get the state of New Hampshire the dollars we heard the governor and administration say that they needed to continue fighting COVID-19," Shaheen said.

We need help, and sadly what we saw from the Executive Council was a total disregard for the safety of the residents of New Hampshire.”

Jim Potter, Executive Vice President of the NH Medical Society said the rejection of the funds also means the state Department of Health and Human Service will not be prepared to administer COVID-19 vaccine to children under the age of 12 when the CDC gives its approval in the next few weeks.

"It's clear they do not have the resources. They're understaffed. They're already financially strained, overworked," Potter said. "On top of that we have the flu vaccines coming in so you have all this effort. These practices desperately need these funds to make this happen for children."