January 15, 2018

Martin Luther King, Jr.I am writing this blogpost on the day of commemoration of Martin Luther King Jr.’s birth. I recall in particular the hopes much of the country had on August 28, 1963, when Dr. King stood on the steps of Lincoln’s monument and delivered his uplifting “I had a dream” speech. My father and I had traveled from NYC to share that stirring occasion of hope. I was twenty then, one year before I began my medical career at University of Chicago Medical School. And less than five years later, before I completed medical school, King was assassinated on April 4, 1968, in Memphis, Tennessee.

Today, as we celebrate King’s legacy at this very challenging time in our country’s history, I am reminded of his words:

            “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. 

              Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.”

Today, in terms of public health in New Hampshire and our country, there are two specific things to hope for to keep darkness from overwhelming our health care system. I am referring to the necessity of continuing the Medicaid expansion in New Hampshire and reauthorizing the Children’s Health Insurance Program federally. 

It has been clear that Medicaid expansion in New Hampshire is having a positive effect on the opiate crisis, providing needed insurance for those seeking help with that intractable addiction. Indeed, Medicaid expansion in New Hampshire has provided insurance to 50,000 New Hampshire residents who otherwise could not afford health insurance. What hasn’t been clear is where the money for that program will come from given the very limited resources in our state. Nevertheless, our state has to find the resources to continue this vital program that brings so much benefit for so many, as well as secondary financial benefit to our state.

Similarly, Congress and the President have to reauthorize CHIP. That program provides health insurance to nine million kids who otherwise would not have health insurance. It has filled the gap between Medicaid and folks who can afford private health insurance. Funds in some states are already running out for this essential safety net, and by the end of March CHIP will be over if it is not reauthorized. We cannot let these kids down; they are the tomorrow of our nation.

So on this day of commemoration of Martin Luther King Jr.’s day those are my wishes going forward. If you share them, please let our state and national reps know of the importance of both of these vital health insurance plans. Hearing from doctors on these issues will help immensely to keep these programs alive.

One final request:  I am interested in your thoughts about the issues that impact health care in New Hampshire and our country, as well as impacting your medical practice and well-being. Please feel free to contact me at lenkorn.md@gmail.com.

Leonard Korn, MD
NHMS President