January 15, 2020

One of the primary functions of the Medical Society in fulfilling our mission is working with the NH State Legislature “to advocate for the well-being of our patients, for our profession and for the betterment of the public health”. This work continues through the entire year, but becomes particularly focused just prior to and at the outset of the new calendar year, when the legislature begins a new session.

The 2020 session is now underway and the Medical Society is fully engaged. Out of over one thousand bills that have been filed in the House and Senate, we have already identified the hundreds of bills that relate to some aspect of health and/or health care, and at our recent NHMS Legislative Committee meeting, we reviewed over 60 individual bills that appear to be of particular relevance to our advocacy for patients and physicians in the state.

Bringing our focus this year on the social determinants of health to our legislative advocacy efforts, there are a number of bills we are looking at early in the session that are of particular interest. Some examples of bills we are closely tracking include a bill to support incentives for affordable housing development, a bill to enhance the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, aka food stamps) to promote purchase of locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables, and a bill to provide paid family and medical leave.

In addition, we are closely following bills that promote healthy behaviors, such as a bill to increase the age of purchase of tobacco to 21 (which recently passed federally as well) and a bill to prohibit certain flavors and chemicals from being added to e-liquids or other vaping products. As we track these bills, understand the language and what the outcomes would be of the legislation, if they line up with the mission, vision, and policy statements of the Medical Society, our governing Council and Legislative Committee then choose to support them. From there we often provide written and/or in-person testimony to the legislature, as well as work with other advocacy organizations to build coalitions to help get the legislation passed.

I have heard directly from multiple state legislators that testimony from physicians is respected and profoundly influential, so if there are any bills that are of particular importance to you, please consider spending a couple hours of your valuable time in Concord to share your thoughts with the legislature.

The Medical Society can easily help coordinate this for you. In addition, if there are bills that you want to make sure we are tracking, let us know. Finally, if you want to become more involved, the NHMS Legislative Committee is open to all members and a great way to learn more about the advocacy work of the society.

In Health,

John Klunk, MD
NHMS President

Please send questions or comments on this blog post to john.klunk@nhms.org.

Questions about testifying and general questions regarding NHMS's advocacy should be directed to michael.padmore@nhms.org.