By PAULA TRACY, InDepthNH.org
CONCORD – Family planning clinics that provide reproductive health care along with other services will need to provide financial information to the state following legislation that passed last week, and that might impact future care, Executive Councilor Cinde Warmington said.
Health and Human Services Commissioner Lori Shibinette confirmed that the financial disclosures would be needed but it was unclear whether it will be at the beginning or end of the contract year.
Attorney General John Formella was tasked with looking at what exactly the new law means to family planning clinics.
Warmington, D-Concord, said she has been hearing from a lot of people concerned about the details of this new law and how it might impact health care.
“The providers are undertaking a lot of risks to provide these services now so yes, that prompted me to ask questions today,” Warmington said.
Through the budget process, the Republican-backed House and Senate approved a measure that makes it illegal to perform an abortion in the last trimester of pregnancy. Doctors who perform such procedures could be guilty of a felony-level offense, under the new law. And the provision requires that anyone who seeks an abortion must have an ultrasound to determine the gestational age of the fetus before termination.
The new law does not allow for exceptions in the case of rape or incest.
Warmington, the only Democrat on the council, said there is a lot of uncertainty and concern for health care in the state and attracting health care providers.
“The criminalization of physicians for providing care is very serious,” she said noting the state already has “health care deserts” and not enough health care providers.
“They can go to any other state and not face criminal and civil liability,” Warmington said in an interview following the meeting.
She asked during the meeting if Medicaid would cover the ultrasounds which are now required by law to get an abortion and different officials said that they thought those would be covered as a medical necessity, but she argued it is not a medical but a new, legal necessity that might not be covered by insurance.
Warmington called it “an abomination,” that the state can subject women by law to the ultrasound procedure, even in cases of rape and incest, and to have that probe placed in their bodies.
Republican Gov. Chris Sununu signed the bill while noting he is pro-choice. He said it was reasonable to oppose late-term abortions, many other states have similar provisions and he was not going to jeopardize a $13 billion budget to which it was attached, with a veto on this matter.
Critics say pro-choice governor don’t ban abortions.
Exit 4A on I-93
A new interchange on I-93 in Derry and Londonderry should be completed by 2026. It will be called Exit 4A and construction will begin next summer in Derry and Londonderry.
Bill Martin, a transportation contractor and engineer working on the project for the DOT gave an overview of the extensive project to the state’s Executive Council Wednesday. He said the total cost is $111 million, primarily using federal funds.
But it might be too hard to tell yet the total costs until the later stages of the project are achieved, said Victoria Sheehan, commissioner of the state Department of Transportation.
Executive Councilor Ted Gatsas, R-Manchester, said there is a cost increase and this looks like it is $40 million higher, but Sheehan said that is not the case.
“We are doing everything we possibly can to reduce costs,” she said. “We are comfortable with this estimate.”
Bill Cass, assistant commissioner and chief engineer of the DOT, said the state did have a substantially higher bid. In fact, when the state opened three bids for the design of the project the lowest one was more than $30 million above the budgeted estimate.
In January, she told councilors that the state would go with its own design-build to try to reduce costs, and the update, Wednesday was on where things stand and estimates for times and costs.
The exit project has been approved under the National Environmental Policy Act and will provide easterly access to the communities on Folsom and Tsienneto Roads.
The state project includes a one-mile, five-lane connector road, 2.3 improved miles on Folsom and Tsienneto Roads, three new bridges, seven new or improved signalizing systems, stormwater runoff capture, and treatment along with other aspects to reduce noise. Permits have also been secured including wetlands.
Right-of-way acquisitions have been made and are being undertaken to buy private property to allow for the widened road and construction needs. Early in 2020, the state sought bids that were significantly higher than anticipated.
The DOT then met and debriefed with teams working and switched to a design-build concept to gain more control over the design process and limit costs.
The plan is to break it into multiple contracts, primarily to facilitate the design process. He said more bite-size pieces make it more likely for more bidders and thus, reduced costs.
“Our design schedule is largely driven by the right of way process,” he said.
Through contract procurement, the state is on track to have advertisements for construction to begin in March 2022.
Expect two seasons of construction and the project to wrap up in 2026, officials said.
The council will get another update on the project in September.
“I’ll have a lot more questions,” Gatsas assured.
The council approved the precepts to allow for two special elections for State Representatives, that of Hillsborough District 7 and Cheshire District 9. Filing for those seats will be from July 5-9 and a primary will be Sept. 7 with the general election set for Oct. 26. If only one person from each party files, there will be no primary.
Two Fish and Game Commissioners were approved, both women. Meggan M. Hodgson of Stratham will represent Rockingham County until June 29, 2023 and Susan Price of Moultonborough will represent Carroll County until June 29, 2026.
Sununu announced a number of nominations including Hollie Noveletsky of Newfields to the Community College System of New Hampshire Board of Trustees, Craig Wright of Loudon as director of the Air Resources within the Department of Environmental Services, Benjamin Carbone of New Hampton to the position of chief pharmacist for the Department of Corrections and Ryan Landry of Tilton as director of nursing for the Department of Corrections.