Gov. Maggie Hassan, D-NH, got the Executive Council to call back lawmakers but failed to get part of a signature plan to restrict prescribing rules through a state medical board.

Nov 4, 2015 5:59 PM

Landrigan: NH Executive Council grants Hassan's opioid special session, prescribing rule changes nixed by medicine board

CONCORD - The Republican-led Executive Council delivers a big victory for Gov. Maggie Hassan agreeing to call back the Legislature later this month to tackle the opioid crisis.

But in a related development the state Board of Registration in Medicine rejected part of Hassan’s proposed signature reforms, placing restrictions on prescribing rules for pain medication.

Meeting in Newport today, the council voted, 4-1, to approve Hassan’s request to bring lawmakers back to work on substance abuse plans starting on Nov. 18.

Councilor Dave Wheeler, R-Milford, was the lone vote against the request.

The two councilors seeking Hassan’s job in 2016 - Newfields Republican Chris Sununu and Concord Democrat Colin Van Ostern - both endorsed Hassan’s petition.

Sununu went on to criticize Hassan’s work to date.

"Still today, even with the call for a special session, it's woefully apparent that the governor's office has no plan,’’ Sununu said in a statement. ``What was Maggie Hassan doing for the past six months while stakeholders and the legislature were looking for partners in this fight?’’

Hassan praised the councilors for taking their action.

"Today's strong bipartisan vote proves that combating the substance abuse crisis and saving lives transcends politics, and I applaud the Executive Council for their bipartisan vote to call for the full and swift attention that comes from a special session of the legislature,’’ Hassan said.

"There is significant support from both parties for many of the items in the proposal that I have put forward, and I look forward to working with the legislature and stakeholders from all sectors on a comprehensive, bipartisan package that will support law enforcement, improve prevention, treatment, and recovery, and strengthen our efforts to help save lives and combat this urgent crisis that is devastating families and communities across the state."

The state medical board had been critical of Hassan’s rules change claiming it was done in secret and did not include any significant public input.

Hassan said none of the changes she sought placed a limit on people getting medication except to place a proposed cap on prescriptions doctors write for someone who first comes to a hospital emergency room.

And she tried to put a good spin on today’s development commending the board for acting on some of her proposal and vowing to work hard with stakeholders on further reforms.

“I thank the Board of Medicine and physicians for working with my office and the Department of Justice to update rules on the prescribing of opioids, and I applaud their courage in swiftly adopting important reforms, including requiring a detailed informed consent form and eliminating the reference to a statement that opioids aren’t addictive,’’ Hassan said.

Senate President Chuck Morse said lawmakers will cooperate and return starting later this month though the initial meeting on Nov. 18 will be to just adopt operating rules for the special session meetings to follow.

“We again insist that any legislative action should follow an inclusive, open, and transparent deliberative process and we will conduct this special session through that lens,’’ Morse said in a statement.

"We will take steps to ensure that a special session includes ample public and expert input, debate, and inclusive review, in order to develop the best possible legislation to deal with these issues in a responsible, comprehensive manner.”

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