It’s been a busy few months for State Representative Dan Ryan since being sworn in as the Charlestown and Chelsea state rep back in April. Ryan was tossed out of the pan and into the fire and thrown into the middle of the state’s budget process.
“When I was sworn in the House had already worked on the Transportation Bond Bill but my colleagues did a great job looking out for Charlestown and Chelsea,” said Ryan. “Charlestown and Chelsea were without a state rep for the first four months of the year but the Boston and Greater Boston delegation stepped up and took care of these communities.”
Since being sworn in, Ryan said he has the utmost respect and trust for his colleagues.
“They helped move a lot of items for our communities along but I found quickly that you have to have trust in your colleagues and they will in return trust and respect you,” he said.
In the House, Ryan was involved in crafting and helping to pass several pieces of significant legislation. From the new gun control bill to substance abuse prevention legislation, Ryan said he feels he and his colleagues accomplished a lot this session.
One bill that will impact Charlestown and help groups like Charlestown Against Drugs and the Charlestown Substance Abuse Coalition is the substance abuse bill.
In the bill are tools that will form policy for supporting a continuum of care and removing barriers that stand in the way of effective treatment. There is also $5 million for substance abuse education and prevention for Charlestown and across the state.
To curb the public health risk of Schedule II and III drugs, the bill requires the Drug Formulary Commission to prepare a drug formulary of appropriate substitutions, which must include abuse deterrent properties and consideration of cost and accessibility for consumers. Insurance carriers are required to cover abuse deterrent drugs listed on the formulary in the same manner that they cover non-abuse deterrent drugs and cannot impose additional cost burdens on consumers who receive abuse deterrent drugs.
Ryan said if there is no abuse deterrent substitution available, the Commissioner of the Department of Public Health can issue regulations related to the drug, including mandating that a physician review the patient’s prescription history, check the Prescription Monitoring Program, educate the patient on addiction, limit the quantity of pills and conduct a risk assessment before prescribing. The Commissioner is also authorized to schedule a substance as Schedule I for up to one year if it poses an imminent hazard to public safety and is not already listed in a different schedule.
The bill strengthens the Prescription Monitoring Program by requiring physicians to receive training on the Program before renewing their licenses. It also requires them to consult with the Program before writing a prescription on an annual basis for patients who receive ongoing treatment of a controlled substance and before writing a new or replacement prescription.
The bill also directs the Health Policy Commission, in consultation with the Department of Public Health, to determine standards for evidence-based, effective substance abuse treatment with high quality outcomes and create a certification process for providers, and once certified, insurance carriers are prohibited from requiring prior authorization for services offered by a certified provider.
Another bill Ryan and the House worked on that was recently signed by Gov. Deval Patrick was the new flood insurance protection bill. There was much anxiety for Charlestown residents when FEMA’s came out with their new maps for the National Flood Insurance Program (NFAP). Charlestown, with its large waterfront, meant more homes and businesses would have to pay higher premiums for insurance under the new maps.
Ryan and other elected officials said the new flood zone maps could lead to significant increases in flood insurance premiums for coastal property owners with NFIP policies and will likely require some property owners to purchase flood insurance for the first time.
Governor Deval Patrick signed a bill that would allow home and business owners to purchase flood insurance based on the balance of their mortgage rather than having to pay unaffordable premiums.
The bill bans lenders for requiring property owners here and across the state from requiring more flood insurance than what is left on any particular loan.
Tying the amount of coverage to the outstanding balance rather than the replacement value of the home will lower premiums for those impacted by the change. Creditors are also banned from including a deductible of less than $5,000 and requiring coverage for contents of the home.
For example if a home is appraised at $300,000 but there in only $100,000 left on the note the home or business would only need to purchase $100,000 worth of coverage.