It’s been a busy few months for State Representative Dan Ryan since being sworn in as the Charlestown and Chelsea state representative 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 Chelsea and Charlestown,” said Ryan. “Chelsea and Charlestown 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.
One thing Ryan’s colleagues moved through the legislature was $30 million for the Chelsea Soldiers Home.
“This was important to keep one of the last two soldiers homes in the state up and running,” 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 Chelsea 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.
In Chelsea, Ryan has also been busy working with immigration groups on the immigration crisis here and across the country.
“Immigration is a huge issue and we have taken too long in this country to address the crisis,” said Ryan. “There’s no one solution but we have failed to stabilize the country’s in Latin America.”
Ryan said the issue goes back to NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement).
“We exported our jobs and but not our ideals,” said Ryan. “Look people are not coming here because there are health care signs all over their country saying ‘come to America and get Obama Care’, they are coming here for a life that is better than the one they are leaving.”
Ryan has also signed on to a coalition that is supporting the Market Basket workers in Chelsea who are fighting to get their former boss, Arthur T. DeMoulas reinstated.
“We are hearing this all the time in the state and across the country about corporate greed,” said Ryan. “Walmart is a multi billion corporation but full time employees are on food stamps. What Arthur T and Market Basket have shows under his leadership is you can have a multi billion corporation that is hugely successful and still pay people a livable wage, provide health care and retirement benefits.”