Kuster talks opioid recovery, climate change legislation at Peterborough Town Library

  • Congresswoman Annie Kuster (D-N.H. 2nd District) speaks and fields questions at the Peterborough Town Library on February 20, 2020 Staff photo by Abbe Hamilton—

  • Congresswoman Annie Kuster (D-N.H. 2nd District) speaks and fields questions at the Peterborough Town Library on February 20, 2020 Staff photo by Abbe Hamilton—

  • Mary Drew of Jaffrey’s Reality Check speaks to Annie Kuster at the Peterborough Town Library on February 20, 2020. Staff photo by Abbe Hamilton—

  • Congresswoman Annie Kuster (D-N.H. 2nd District) speaks and fields questions at the Peterborough Town Library on February 20, 2020 Staff photo by Abbe Hamilton—

  • Congresswoman Annie Kuster (D-N.H. 2nd District) speaks and fields questions at the Peterborough Town Library on February 20, 2020 Staff photo by Abbe Hamilton—

  • Congresswoman Annie Kuster (D-N.H. 2nd District) speaks and fields questions at the Peterborough Town Library on February 20, 2020 Staff photo by Abbe Hamilton—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 2/21/2020 12:43:13 PM
Modified: 2/21/2020 12:43:01 PM

Congresswoman Annie Kuster (D-NH 2nd District) shared her recent achievements in the health care and environmental field Wednesday night in a forum at the Peterborough Town Library.

Kuster touted some of her recent activities and victories in Congress, particularly ones she achieved through the Energy and Commerce Committee, which she was assigned to at the start of 2019.

“It took me six years to get there,” she said, adding that she relishes being “right at the center of the universe in Congress for commerce, renewable energy, and climate.”

About 10 community members attended the talk, as well as five of Kuster’s staff from her Washington D.C., Concord, and Nashua offices.

Her activities on the committee included securing a $10 billion appropriation towards opioid epidemic mitigation in HR3, the Lower Drug Costs Now Act, which awaits a Senate vote. Kuster is the founder and co-chair of the bipartisan opioid task force, and is pursuing funds for education and prevention, access to treatment and long-term recovery.

“This isn’t a 28-day, one and done operation,” she said.

She also said it is important to enable access to mental health and substance use treatment programs in prisons.

As high as 80 to 90 percent of people incarcerated have co-occurring mental health and substance use issues, she said. Currently, Kuster is working to repeal the Medicaid inmate exclusion policy, which strips people of their Medicaid coverage the day they go to prison or jail. Kuster said she suspected the 50 year-old law was enacted to save money, but believes the societal cost of the resulting inadequate treatment is far higher. 

“We’re footing the bill because people are not well,” she said.

Kuster said medical assisted treatment programs in jails and prisons can drop the recidivism rates of formerly incarcerated people from 50 to 15 percent.

Mary Drew of Reality Check in Jaffrey asked Kuster if there was hope for sustaining grant funds from NH Community Development Finance Authority, which are set to expire this fall. Kuster said she would look into it, and recommended statewide nonprofits as alternate sources of revenue if federal funds didn’t come through.

Kuster also shared her activities on the climate and environmental front. She said as someone who majored in environmental studies in college, she’s long been frustrated that the environment never seemed to break the top 10 of voters’ issues.

“You can dive right into the conversation now,” she said. “New Hampshire, in my lifetime … has increased in temperature by 2.5 degrees and an additional 12 inches in precipitation.”

She said her data is from a visit she recently took to the Hubbard Brook experimental forest in North Woodstock.

“I’m an optimist, I wouldn’t be doing this job if I wasn’t,” she said.

The audience received packets of 20 bipartisan climate change bills Kuster sponsored that are coming up for hearings in the next couple of months. She mentioned working on electric and hybrid vehicle incentives, touting an important tourism opportunity as 40 percent of vehicles in bordering Quebec are now electric.

Earlier in the day, Kuster visited the Region 14 Applied Technology Center and MAxT Makerspace to discuss workforce issues and hear from students and instructors.




Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

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