Saturday, February 24, 2018

Policy and Advocacy Success in New Hampshire


The American Academy of Pain Management recently submitted a letter to Representative Frank Kotowski, Chair of the New Hampshire House Committee on Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs, to express our concerns with NH HB 1423, a bill related to the creation of prescribing guidelines—except in this case, the “guidelines” would have legislated strict prescribing limits and other areas of medicine better left to the judgment of licensing boards.

While the Academy fully supports the spirit of HB 1423, in that we fully agree that appropriate guidelines will help to improve the prescribing of medications utilized for pain management, we could not support the bill as it was introduced—legislating the practice of medicine in such a way is dangerous and inappropriate.  Licensing boards, unlike the legislature, are made up of specialists in their respective fields of medicine, meaning they are far more able to determine what is considered appropriate treatment for their respective patients.  What’s more, medical discoveries are made every day, and the Boards are much more able to adapt to changing science than is the legislature.  For these reasons, we strongly encouraged the legislature to direct the licensing boards to create guidelines for prescribing medications for pain management, but we respectfully requested that each Board be able to determine for itself what is included within those guidelines, without being forced to adhere to legislation that may not be appropriate for its specific patient and practitioner population.

We are happy to report that our concerns were heard!  The amended version of the bill has removed all concerning language.  While the Boards are still required to establish rules, and there are still mandated issues that those rules must address, the legislation no longer legislates the practice of medicine.  This bill is still active, but it seems likely that it will remain free of any language of major concern.

To the bill’s sponsor, Representative Rosenwald, to New Hampshire’s House Committee on Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs, to the Committees who continue to thoughtfully consider the bill, and to the many advocates who have been active in crafting a thoughtful and appropriate policy, we thank you!

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