As 2019 dawns, several new state and federal laws go into effect that will impact the Twin Counties. To name a few, they include a drug take-back program; itemized price lists for hospitals, Columbia County Health among them; and increased paid family leave.
Drop-off points for surplus prescription drugs — a program funded by pharmaceutical product manufacturers — is such a simple, logical idea we wonder why nobody thought to require it before. The drop-offs are meant to encourage people to dispose of their opiate medications with no questions asked. Time will tell if people will take advantage of the opportunity, although Hudson Police Chief L. Edward Moore said a drop box at the city station three years ago was an unqualified success and similar surplus prescription drug drop-off days in Greene County in the past have been well-received.
Another law that will hit close to home in 2019 is a federal statute requiring hospitals to post standard prices and policies on their websites in a machine-readable format. The law is good and important because it makes health care more transparent, but it’s biggest weakness is it doesn’t make health care more affordable.
The third law that will have a significant local impact is the increase in paid family leave to 10 weeks, which will pay employees 55 percent of their average weekly wage.
Passage of these laws makes good on a few promises from state and federal elected officials about more transparency, improved safety and better workplace rights. It’s a small agenda, but it will be meaningful in 2019 and beyond.