In a meeting with the Londonderry Rotary Club, Gov. Maggie Hassan called on the legislature to send to her desk by the end of January comprehensive substance abuse legislation.
Hassan praised Londonderry’s efforts to promote economic development in the areas of Pettengill Road and Exit 4A off Interstate 93, but warned that the State must continue to build on efforts to combat the heroin and substance abuse crisis in New Hampshire in order to truly support job-creating businesses and continue laying the foundation for the innovation economy of the 21st century.
“The heroin and substance abuse crisis is the most pressing public health and public safety challenge that we face as a state,” she said at the Rotary’s Wednesday, Oct. 28 meeting. “Everywhere I go, I hear from people who have been affected by substance abuse. It touches people from all walks of life. This truly is an ‘all hands on deck’ moment for our state.”
Hassan also called on the legislature to reauthorize the New Hampshire Health Protection Program, which is providing coverage of treatment services for substance abuse and behavioral health to over 40,000 residents.
“It’s the first time the Medicaid program has covered substance abuse and behavioral health, paid for 100 percent by the feds. In 2017, it will be paid for 95 percent by the feds,” Hassan said of the program, which sunsets in January 2017. “Our treatment providers are telling us those who want to expand substance abuse treatment are waiting to see this reauthorized before they make the capital investment to expand treatment beds, so it’s very important that we reauthorize this as soon as possible.”
Hassan also spoke of the need to crack down on fentanyl, a major cause of overdose deaths in New Hampshire; to update prescription practices; to limit duration for emergency room prescriptions; to expand drug courts; and to strengthen the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, facilitating data-sharing with other states.
“No doctor wants to overprescribe,” said oral surgeon Dr. Salman Malik, who practices in Londonderry and Nashua. In some cases, a patient may not reveal to their doctor other medications they have been prescribed.
Communicating with health care providers in other states can take time and resources, according to Malik, who explained doctors do the best they can to communicate with other providers for information about any other medications that may have been prescribed to a patient.
“It’s a very active effort,” he said, noting the Board of Pharmacy has also been working to improve information sharing to prevent over-prescription.
In addition to addressing the heroin crisis and economic development in Londonderry, Hassan reasserted her commitment to prioritizing the construction of exit 4A in the State’s 10-year transportation improvement plan, and called on Congressional leaders to pass a long-term federal transportation funding bill.
Hassan said exit 4A and Pettengill Road “demonstrate Londonderry is poised to lead the way as the State continues to work to expand middle class opportunity and keep New Hampshire’s economy moving in the right direction.
“Locally, exit 4A represents significant economic development opportunity for the region and for the State, and ensuring expedited timing for funding and completion of the project will spur economic development and create jobs,” she said. “I believe exit 4A needs to be included in the context of the I-93 expansion; and as we work to develop the 10-year transportation improvement plan, I’ll place a high priority on this project that will explore ways to fully fund the project earlier than it is currently proposed.”