BY: Citizens Count
On Wednesday, October 28 Governor Maggie Hassan (D) and Republican legislative leaders announced their legislative priorities to combat substance abuse.
There is some overlap in the proposals. The Governor and the legislative leaders both support the following initiatives:
- increasing the penalties for selling fentanyl
- increasing funding for drug courts
- increasing funding for a pilot program in Manchester that targets peak times for drug dealing
- updating prescriber rules to ensure patients and providers understand the risk of opioid addiction
Hassan supports several other proposals that are not in the Republican legislators’ plan:
- Reauthorizing expanded Medicaid eligibility
- Requiring all insurance companies to use the same criteria for evaluating the need for addiction treatment
- Limiting opioid prescriptions from emergency rooms to a one week supply
Legislators are particularly wary of the proposal to limit some prescriptions to a one week supply.
“We don’t want to solve one problem and create a crisis for people who are in a chronic pain situation like my Mom,” said Sen. Jeb Bradley (R-Wolfeboro).
Hassan countered that her proposal only impacts emergency room prescriptions.
“There is nothing in the draft proposals that we put out that would impact the ability of people with chronic disease to get medication,” said Hassan.
Hassan also wants to make some policy changes before the end of the year, possibly through a special session of the legislature.
“People are dying nearly every day, and we must act quickly to give patients, providers, parents and law enforcement better tools to combat this epidemic,” said Hassan.
On the other hand, Republican legislators don’t want to rush the process.
“The governor has the ability to call for a special session, but what's most important is that we do this in a coordinated, comprehensive, well-thought-out way, so we don't make any mistakes in solving the problem and don't have to come back and correct it,” said Sen. Jeb Bradley (R-Wolfeboro).