Legislature roundup: Senate holds off on expanding dental care
The prime sponsor of the bill Sen. Peggy Gilmour, D-Hollis, said the new designation would “help close one of the gaps in our oral health care delivery system that bars its doors to many of our most vulnerable: children, seniors, and others with physical or financial barriers to routine dental care.”
Her proposal had the backing of more than 20 organizations in the state but not the New Hampshire Dental Society, which fought the bill calling it untimely and unnecessary.
The 12-member commission would be comprised of dental providers, oral health advocates and several members of the House and Senate.
The Maine Senate approved a similar proposal Thursday. The dental hygienist practitioner plan has already passed the Maine House.
The Senate defeated an attempt to overhaul the state’s medical malpractice panels, which were established nearly a decade ago to both streamline and lower the cost of medical malpractice litigation.
Sen. Sharon Carson, R-Londonderry, said the panels are not working, and instead are becoming mini-trials that take nearly as long as litigation and cost almost as much.
Carson said the panels were supposed to reduce malpractice insurance costs for medical providers but it has not, and New Hampshire continues to have some of the highest premiums in the country.
The Senate voted 21-3 to kill House Bill 583, which would have overhauled the screening panel process.
The Senate wants to study whether industrial hemp should be removed from its designation as a controlled drug.
The House approved House Bill 153, which would have allowed farmers to grown industrial hemp as a crop. The hemp is used for such things as rope and clothes and does not contain the intoxicating chemicals in marijuana.
The Senate approved a committee to study the issue instead.
The Senate approved two bills that will allow the Health and Human Services Department to speed up the opening of a new 10-bed mental-health stabilization unit at New Hampshire Hospital.
Health and Human Service officials want the unit up and running as soon as possible in order to reduce the number of mental health patients in local hospital emergency rooms because there is no room at New Hampshire Hospital.
The House will have to agree to the plan.
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