By State Senator Bob Odell
The work of the legislature is at a mid-point. Last week was “cross over” and both houses worked through the final bills they wanted to pass along to the other body.
Senators put in a twelve-hour session last Wednesday in order to avoid coming back for a second day. A twelve-hour day, of course, includes a break for lunch and a break for dinner.
And the long day includes pre-session caucuses and meetings between leaders of each party that delayed the start of the session for an hour and a half. Then, there were the periodic recesses that stopped business on the floor. The party calling for the recess goes into an anteroom so Senators cam meet; the Senators from the other party crowd into a corner of the chamber for their discussions. Some recesses are just a couple of minutes while others can take much longer.
In spite of frequent recesses and time for meals, the Senate did a good bit of work last week.
The cost of health care including health care insurance took up much of the Senate’s time. While President Barack Obama had signed the new national health care program the day before the Senate session, Senators were focused on Senator Maggie Hassan’s (Exeter) initiative to try to reduce health care costs in New Hampshire. Her bill, SB 505, originally would have created a state oversight commission, patterned after a similar commission that has been in operation for a number of years in Maryland that operates like our Public Utilities Commission.
Initially, there was a firestorm of negative reaction. Stakeholders fought back and in the end the legislation passed last week creates a commission to only study options for the state to try to hold down the continuing double-digit increases in health care insurance.
One statistic presented by Senator Hassan is that while personal income in New Hampshire rose 21 percent over a decade the costs of health care insurance rose 91 percent. And within our state, one procedure at a hospital can be twice the cost at another hospital.
That underlies the serious concern many of us have that longer term the annual growth in health care costs including insurance is not sustainable. Everyone agrees with the seriousness of the problem. After assuring the minority members of the Senate that she would work with them to have minority party members of the commission and would seek to identify private money instead of state money to fund the commission, Senator Hassan’s bill passed on 24 to zero roll call vote. Continue reading
Filed under: Capital Comments, Commerce, Government, Health & Wellness, Politics & Public Policy, State Government | Tagged: Health care, Senator Bob Odell | Leave a comment »