In this year's New Hampshire Gubernatorial Race race, incumbent Republican Chris Sununu is facing challenger Democrat Tom Sherman. To understand how they plan to support family caregivers, expand livble communities, increase the number of qualifiied home health workers, and lower prescription drug prices, AARP New Hampshire asked each candidate to answer four key questions in 60-second videos. Here are their responses, with transcripts:
1. How will you work to protect or expand resources for the 50+ living independently, including their family caregivers?
Well, the expansion of resources can come in a variety of ways. One of the biggest things we focus on is housing. $100 million. Invest in each program. First time the states ever done anything like that with the idea that we as we increase the supply of workforce and affordable housing, the prices come down. And that's right there creates a lot of economic opportunity for seniors.
The second big piece is good fiscal management at the state level that leads to surpluses comes back to cities and towns. What is your property taxes? That's another huge one that people want to see. How does the state lower property tax? Well, we'll send cash back to cities and towns. When we manage ourselves responsibly at the state level, then we'll provide.
Then we want to make sure we have the the nurses, the doctors, the health care system is robust and we're making investments there. We put over $200 million in additional money into nurses and doctors during the COVID pandemic. And we're able to keep a lot of those flexibilities that we created so that you guys all have that opportunity.
Thank you for the question. We want to be sure that people who want to stay in their homes can stay in their homes, and that the families who provide a lot of that support are fully able to assist them in doing so. That requires, number one, that we address the costs of staying at home, which many people are on a fixed income, and yet they're seeing skyrocketing property taxes and costs of energy.
Second, we need to make sure that they care. They provide is fully adequate. That means we have to be sure we have all the support services and that we support their families who are providing a lot of that care. And finally, we have to be sure we address the workforce issues for the people who are providing that support when we fully address these three components.
We'll be able to make sure that people can stay home if they want to stay home.
2. How will you increase the number of qualified home health workers so more Granite Staters can continue to live independently at home?
In my four terms in the legislature, I've watched workforce become a crisis. I am fully committed to making sure that across all the health care professions and other professions, because it is statewide, that workforce is a priority. When I'm governor, one of the ways that we do this is we make sure that we are providing high schoolers with the ability to develop in that profession.
Running Start and Pathways are two community college programs that dovetail with our high schools and with our career and technical schools. To be sure that we can do this, we have to create those pathways for those who support our seniors aging at home so that they are fully supported. We also have to increase the wages for those so that recruitment and retention is no longer a challenge in this field.
So increasing home health care is such an important aspect because we know we can do it at a lower cost and most importantly, at a better quality. Folks who want to stay in their homes, they want to stay in their communities. And that is so important for those individuals and having a system that wraps around the needs of the individual as opposed to saying you have to fit your problem in our our government system.
That's the old way of doing things. So we will we really want to focus on the individual nurses, health care workers, nurses, making sure that we're increasing the Medicaid rates for those individuals, which we have done and will continue to do. Making sure that we actually are growing our own nurses. So I increased the our nursing schools. We doubled actually the number of nurses at UAH right here in New Hampshire that were growing.
We created the LPN program, LPN nurses. You couldn't even get a LPN degree in New Hampshire before I became governor. We created those programs here out of our community college system, so making sure that we're home growing and being able to keep that workforce. That's the biggest challenge we're going to have in the next couple of years.
3. What steps will you take to ensure all Granite Staters have access to livable communities and are able to live independently in their home as they age?
Recognizing that many seniors are confronted with fixed income and also skyrocketing costs, property taxes and energy. My goal would be to make sure that they can live not just in their own homes, but they may choose to downsize. And we have to make it possible for them to do that in the communities they love where they've lived for so many years.
That's why my housing plan takes that into account, makes sure that those communities are available wherever you live, and that housing is across the income spectrum. So whether you need affordable housing or whether you can afford to live in a mixed use condo, you need to be able to have that option available and that will be available through my housing plan.
We also need to be sure that all the supporting services are available to allow people to age at home. That's part of my plan as well.
So when we talk about livable communities for our granite Staters, a couple of things come into my first. We've talked about nursing the access to health care, making sure we're we're kind of growing our nurses will be able to keep them in. Our health care system is robust. Telemedicine telemedicine has made huge leaps and bounds and that allows individuals to live independently, which is wonderful.
But we're also now using telemedicine even within our own nursing homes or in private care facilities. Those types of investments that we've made have been absolutely huge. And again, it just gives people a little more independence. Transportation. How do you get from A to B? Maybe it's getting so you can do your grocery shopping or it's getting to the doctor's office.
Just some of those basic transportation needs, especially in rural areas, are really important. If you don't have it, you're not going be able to stay in your own community, with your own families and in the surroundings that you want to be. And so transportation is another real, real big one. So again, wrapping ourselves around the needs of the individual as opposed to asking folks to come into our system.
That's really how New Hampshire separates itself from the rest of the country.
4. What steps will you take to ensure all Granite Staters have access to affordable prescription medications?
Affordable prescription medication is really the talk of the day, and as it should be, because in many cases our hands are really tied in terms of what we can negotiate. I cannot negotiate Medicare prices and for prescription drugs. I think that's absolutely wrong. I think states should be able to kind of fight it out, find the best price and work together sometimes to create synergies to lower that.
So working with the federal government to create that flexibility is huge. Well, we created a Pharmaceutical Transparency Board, so to make sure that those costs, they're being transparent. You can price shop for for better and lower drug costs if you want, and making sure that the right checks and balances are within the system so no one is abused.
We have the insulin cap, right? We capped the price of insulin here in New Hampshire, which is so vital for so many folks, something as simple as insulin, it's not hard to get. But if those costs get too far out of whack, you're not going to be able to have that that availability. So availability is everything. And I think we're making great progress. We just need some more help with our federal partners.
As a doctor and as a legislator, I've been fully committed to making sure that seniors don't have to choose between their medications, nutrition and housing. That's critical. We have to make sure they have access to affordable medications, prescription medications. And that has been my commitment throughout my legislative experience. I partnered with AARP on the Prescription Drug Affordability Board.
I was prime sponsor and now I'm a member of the board. That should decrease costs. We also had several other pieces of legislation in that we have passed ensuring access to insulin and other critical, critical drugs, allowing re-importation from Canada and also what's called reverse auction. These have allowed us to decrease prescription drug prices in the state of New Hampshire. I will continue my commitment to making sure that seniors don't have to make that very tough choice, but do have access to the medications that keep them healthy.
AARP is committed to ensuring voters have the information they need to cast their ballot this year. That is why we are publishing the AARP Asks the Candidates voter guide series, so candidates can share their plans on issues important to 50-plus voters.
AARP has a proud 36-year history of nonpartisan voter engagement and does not endorse or oppose candidates or make contributions to political campaigns or candidates.