Happy Spring! It’s ninteen degrees!
Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley, Republican from Wolfeboro, applauded the Senate Commerce Committee’s approval of a bill aimed at lowering Workers’ Comp costs. S B Three was unanimously approved with proponents claiming it will lower New Hampshire’s ninth highest in the nation comp costs by seven and one half percent. The bill approved by the Commerce Committee would lower medical costs charged under the state’s Workers Compensation program and freeze those rates for three years. It would also require providers to justify disputed charges.
Current law gives employers little recourse when presented with high medical bills. The bill would also improve transparency and accountability by giving employers more information on what competing providers are charging. “High workers compensation costs are a real barrier to economic growth,” said Commerce Committee Chair Russell Prescott, Republican from Exeter. He said he was pleased the committee was able to reach a bipartisan consensus that addressed the needs of business and health care providers. We’ll see what House Labor Committee Chair Will Infantine has to say about this during our State House Insider segment this morning. (Click here for that interview.)
In a related bill, one that might also help the state address its out of control heroin problem, the New Hampshire Senate unanimously approved a bill sponsored by Sen. Andy Sanborn, Republican from Bedford, aimed at the growing problem of painkiller addiction. S B Forty Five would require patients seeking care under the state’s Workers Compensation program to enter into an Opioid Treatment Agreement with their medical provider.
The legislation is modeled on successful efforts in several states to help patients avoid addiction to the powerful painkillers they need to treat on the job injuries. Sanborn said he was quote “…shocked to learn how much of New Hampshire’s Workers Compensation program goes just to opioids…aside from the cost to taxpayers and businesses, getting hooked on painkillers carries a tremendous cost to patients. This bill is just one way the New Hampshire Legislature is addressing our state’s rising rash of addiction and overdoses.” The bill requires doctors and patients to agree to a treatment plan to lower the risk of addiction and misuse of painkillers. The agreement is based on a model suggested by the New Hampshire Medical Society, which testified in favor of the bill, along with representatives of New Hampshire employers and insurance companies. Sanborn said the bill would save lives.
Manchester Police Chief David J. Mara has repeatedly said that addiction to opioid pain killers invariably leads to heroin use and associated crime as addicts seek to lower the cost of their addiction from expensive pills to inexpensive heroin. Attorney General Joseph Foster has also flagged the over prescription of opioid pain killers as a major part of the state’s drug problem. The Senate also approved a bill establishing a committee to generally study the causes of and solutions to opioid abuse in the state.
News from our own backyard continues after this.
Seems our interview with Cornerstone Action Education Liaison Ann Marie Banfield touched a nerve or two yesterday. During the interview, we discussed House Bill three twenty three, which passed the House. Banfield warned the bill as amended would trample parent rights and make it virtually impossible to refuse standardized testing by installing the PACE pilot program in state law. As we’ve now learned, PACE will not reduce standardized testing, it will increase it, making it a weekly occurrence.
During the interview, we took issue with House Education Committee Chairman Rick Ladd for his role in seemingly doing the Dept. of Education’s bidding on the matter, wondering how it could be that a Republican House would pass a bill so hostile to parents and students.
An answer to that question came to our inbox from State Rep. Victoria Sullivan, Republican from Manchester’s Ward 9 and member of the House Education Committee. She said that Ladd is no stooge for the N H D O E but that the committee was fooled by them over PACE.
Said Sullivan, quote” We had passed HB323 in committee. In its original form it limited state assessments. Rich (Ladd) was passionate in our exec session about putting an end to Fed and NH DOE control. He is a former teacher and administrator. He understands how this is crippling teachers and hurting kids. He wants to take steps to get away from Fed control. He is the one who introduced the bill stating that no district HAS to use CCSS. He strongly believes in parental control and moving away from testing. He fully supported HB603 clarifying that parents can opt their children out of Smarter Balance.”
Sullivan goes on in her email to say that Ladd met with Deputy Education Commissioner Paul Leather the day before session. Leather apparently only showed Ladd parts of the waiver which stated PACE would be used to limit testing and add to local control. He discussed it with us briefly on Wednesday, but (the committee) did not know he was going to produce an amendment on Thursday.
When HB323 came up and Ladd introduced the amendment he explained that the waiver would include PACE which would limit testing. Sullivan stated that HB323 as passed in committee would not be valid under the new waiver and it wasn’t until the committee saw the entire waiver draft the following Monday afternoon, which Rick Ladd INSISTED NH DOE present, did they know that Next Generation Standards would be required.
When the committee asked prior to seeing the waiver if NGSS would be required it was told, “many science standards have been discussed including NGSS. She said Ladd is working to correct the situation.
That’s news from our own backyard, Girard at Large hour ___ is next!