Sununu Administration Withdraws State Request to Accept Vaccine Money | News, Sports, Jobs

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Health and Social Services Commissioner Lori Shibinette is pictured during a press conference in Concord. (Photo by PAULA TRACY)

CONCORD – State public health officials on Tuesday asked lawmakers not to accept $ 27 million in federal funds to expand the state’s vaccination program against COVID-19.

A one-sentence letter dated October 19 from Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Lori Shibinette to the former chair of the Joint Legislative and Tax Committee indicates that the department wishes to remove both elements to expand the Committee agenda program for Friday’s meeting. .

The tax committee must approve the acceptance of federal funds for the state.

Last week, the Executive Council on a party line, 4 to 1, refused to approve the two points submitted by Gov. Chris Sununu and the agency.

Two of the advisers expressed concern over vaccination warrants for private companies and suggested a ban like the one imposed by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.

Sununu told advisers he didn’t think the state should interfere with decisions made by private companies about vaccines.

The other two Republican advisers said they believe more funds are available for the program and now is not the time to accept federal money.

New Hampshire is the only state to deny federal money to expand COVID-19 vaccination programs as part of the latest stimulus package approved by Congress.

Tax committee member Senator Lou D’Allesandro, D-Manchester, called the decision to remove the items unbelievable.

“The $ 27 million is gone” he said. “What a terrible impression New Hampshire has made on the citizens of the state. Looks like we can’t manage a lemonade stand.

The question of whether to accept federal money for immunization programs became a hot topic at the council meeting last month when protesters strongly opposed the articles.

Protesters also mocked health and social service officials who felt threatened and were escorted out of the building by state police.

The council meeting was canceled after the officials left.

A larger crowd hosted the governor’s and executive council meeting last week when nine protesters were arrested, although the council rejected both elements.

After the council vote, Sununu accused several councilors of being influenced by conspiracy theories and fantasies.

“It’s a shame that we succumbed to a group of thugs who harassed people and threatened to disrespect them” D’Allesandro said, “And then we give in, we give in to harassment. It is not a good thing. This is not a good message to send to anyone.

Health and Human Services spokesperson Jake Leon said, “The leadership of the department is committed to exploring all potential funding sources to ensure that New Hampshire residents have easy and convenient access to health care services. vaccines. In the near future, booster doses for Moderna and J&J vaccines will soon receive federal approval, as will eligibility for children 11 years of age and older. Regional public health networks and state health care providers will need additional resources if they are to administer boosters and vaccines to children aged 11 to 15.

“The Department has identified potential funding for part of the state’s needs and expects it to be reviewed by the Tax Commission in the coming weeks. If additional funding opportunities are identified to meet all of the state’s vaccine needs, we anticipate needing approval from the Tax Committee and Executive Council. This will have an impact on when these much-needed programs become available to meet the needs of New Hampshire residents ”, Leon said.

The withdrawal would indicate that the administration does not believe the board would approve contracts for the extension of the vaccine at any time in the future.

Without the approval of the tax committee to accept the federal money, the money will be kept by the federal government.

Protesters claimed that accepting the money would force the state to enforce federal mandates on vaccines. The attorney general and Sununu assured councilors this was not the case, and the governor reminded councilors that they had approved other contracts with the same catch-all language.

But Republicans on the Executive Council were not convinced.

The Tax Committee will meet at 10 a.m. on Friday in rooms 210-211 of the Legislative Office building.

Garry Rayno can be contacted at [email protected]

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