NHPHA Opposes Non-Germane Amendment to HB 357

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A guest blog entry from Jay Smith, MD, MPH, NHPHA Policy Committee Co-Chair

We have been told that the Finance Committee has amended HB 357 (formerly a bill about drivers’ licenses) to require at least $40 million in budget cuts to the budget of the Department of Transportation over the next two years.  Our sources tell us that this would lead to approximately 300 layoffs in the Department.  It seems likely that this amended version of the bill, if enacted could lead to a substantial decrease in public safety in our state. 

We believe the committee needs to consider all the possible ramifications this decrease in the transportation department’s budget would cause – particularly those associated with injuries and illnesses that require prompt medical attention.  Our roads need to be made clear and passable for emergency vehicles, such as ambulances, as quickly as they now are or there will be increased numbers of premature deaths and increased disability due to delays in arrival at major hospitals.

Medical studies on re-vascularization therapies, in patients experiencing heart attacks and strokes clearly show that earlier treatment leads to less loss of heart and brain tissues.  Delays in getting to patients or getting them to treatment centers due to poor road conditions or closed roads will inevitably lead to more disability and deaths among people suffering these sudden emergencies.  It would also likely lead to poorer perinatal outcomes since women needing surgical births will take longer to arrive at the few widely dispersed hospitals in the state where this still happens.

Finally, let us remember that poorly maintained roads lead to accidents.  In this past winter, even with current budget funding, the bad conditions that occurred frequently lead to more accidents, including 19 state police cruisers hitby oncoming cars while responding to traffic accidents.  We are lucky that none of our public safety officers has been killed.  Reduce road maintenance will lead to an increased risk to them and anyone else who found themselves on the road in weather that they had not known would be that bad.

Read the language of the amendment here
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