This legislative session began at a slow pace as the unknowns of last year’s tax cut coupled with the unfunded voter mandate for Medicaid expansion seemed to weigh on everyone’s mind. Serving on the House Health and Welfare Committee, the question of how to get at the heart of the healthcare cost crisis weighed heavy on my mind. Everyone understands that the real problem currently facing healthcare is the high cost and that everything we’ve done in this country for the last 40 years only seems to have exacerbated the problem. For this reason, I felt like my greatest accomplishment this session was the passage of H182, which I sponsored in the House.
H182 had bi-partisan support, was co-sponsored by every member of the House Health and Welfare Committee and passed both the House and the Senate without a single no vote. H182 broadened the ability of pharmacists to prescribe certain medications if the prescription did not require a new diagnosis, the illness was minor or limited in duration or the patient’s health and safety might be threatened if not provided immediately.
This bill allows people to receive certain drugs without the added expense of a doctor’s visit. This allows individuals to save money on unnecessary doctor’s visits, will reduce health care costs for thousands of Idahoans and is the first legislation of its kind in the nation. While the bill obviously doesn’t completely fix the current high cost of health care, it is a step in the right direction and is a great example of how less regulation and free market solutions will ultimately solve the health care cost crisis.
My biggest regret of the session was that H99, that I co-sponsored with Rep. Ilana Rubel, D-Boise, which would have repealed mandatory minimum sentences for certain drug possession crimes, once again stalled in the Senate after passing the House by a vote of 48-21. While H99 would not have completely solved Idaho’s overcrowded prison population crisis, it would have been a first step towards solving this problem. The bill would have returned sentencing discretion to judges, where it belongs.