By PAULA TRACY, InDepthNH.org
CONCORD – The Senate voted unanimously Thursday to allow opioids to be prescribed by telehealth appointment just as the federal health emergency ends.
House Bill 500 permanently extends the practice which was allowed during the pandemic. The voice vote was unanimous and passed a third reading to allow the governor to sign the bill.
Telehealth was extremely successful for individuals to access medicine and did not increase dangers, said state Sen. Regina Birdsell, R-Hampstead.
She asked to vote down the committee amendment because of concerns about conflicts with federal HPPA rules, which the Senate did unanimously. She said Thursday is the end of the national public state of emergency, and the bill needed to be passed today so individuals can continue access.
State Sen. Suzanne Prentiss, D-Lebanon, said the bill is critical to providing healthcare.
“Four years ago, I would just get in my car, I’d sit in the waiting room…be seen, and go home,” she said.
Those without vehicles, those who are immunocompromised, and those who have work or school and can’t get to the appointment do not have that same opportunity to access healthcare.
There are guardrails in place in the bill including an annual visit and if the provider thinks they need to see the patient, she said.
“It took a pandemic to show us how this could actually work,” she said, “We are shifting the paradigm.”
LEASE TERMINATION IN DOMESTIC VIOLENCE CASES
Sen. Shannon Chandley, D-Amherst, asked the Senate to re-refer House Bill 261 to the Commerce Committee due to possible conflicts with federal law. The Senate agreed.
The bill allows for lease termination in cases of domestic violence.
House Bill 89 which would allow for those convicted of a crime to be exonerated posthumously was recommended to be killed 14-10.
The Senate voted on House Bill 89, which was a pet project of the late House Majority Leader Renny Cushing, D-Hampton, who wanted the state’s only “witch,” Eunice “Goody” Cole of Hampton to be exonerated.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eunice_Cole
She went to Massachusetts where she was incarcerated, lost her house, and was eventually brought home and given a shack but in 1673 and 1680 she was again accused of witchcraft.
Sen. Debra Altschiller, D-Stratham, said the wrong needs to be fixed.
But Sen. Sharon Carson, R-Londonderry, said the problem is New Hampshire was not a state back then and it is the Bay State’s responsibility to right the wrong.
Altschiller said Massachusetts pardoned witches from that state but not Cole whom they considered from New Hampshire.
The Senate agreed to table House Bill 31, approved by the House, which would decriminalize the possession of blackjacks and other objects intended to break bones.
ELECTION OF STRAFFORD COUNTY COMMISSIONERS
The Senate passed HB 75 relative to the election of Strafford County Commissioners. Democrats voted against it claiming it was an effort to gerrymander.
Democratic Leader Donna Soucy, D-Manchester, said, “Nearly two years ago, members of this Legislature, sat on redistricting committees and bore the tremendous responsibility to uphold and protect democracy in the Granite State by working diligently to attempt to draw fair maps. A process that only takes place every ten years, following the release of census data. This is why the language adopted today in HB 75, which nearly mirrors language from HB 270, a bill currently retained in the House, has raised alarms for many, with its precedent-setting language.
“Frankly, this bill, passed without a majority request from Strafford County officials or residents, smacks of partisan politics and gerrymandering at its worst.”
It goes into effect in 2024 and was supported by Republicans who have control of the redistricting process.