Dear Constituents-

The first week back has been very busy at the Statehouse. Certain controversial bills are being rushed through while in Ag & Forestry we are learning about feral pigs and other issues that need statute updates.

I have submitted one bill that affects a very small percentage of the population but I hope can make a difference for them and be used as a model in other states. When a woman undergoes mastectomy surgery, she may choose to have breast mound reconstruction or have chest wall reconstruction (also known as flat closure). Each of the two choices has advantages and drawbacks and the decision is a very personal one. Regardless, sometimes the initial surgery needs a follow up revision surgery to make corrections. The coding is pretty clear for women who need revision for breast mound reconstruction, but is less clear for those who have had chest wall reconstruction. My bill requires state healthcare stakeholders to decide on clear coding and billing protocol so that no woman recovering from the devastation of mastectomy surgery must deal with incorrect coding and denial of revision surgery. Representative Martha Feltus (R), who has long worked as an insurance coder, was a strong ally, reaching across the aisle to help me gather 77 co-sponsors for the bill, which hopefully prompts the bill off the wall in committee.

Introducing a bill or signing on as a co-sponsor is a bit of a gamble and is not a guarantee to vote for it in the end. One reason for this is that bills are often modified in some way before passing out of their committee of jurisdiction and then the Senate committee of jurisdiction makes changes, too. While the topics of a bill generally hold, it can have a very different affect after it gets through two committees.

Governor Scott’s State of the State speech had a concerned and cooperative tone. It was interrupted early by youngsters rallying for immediate action on the climate. Governor Scott quieted and allowed them 4 minutes to share their dramatic message. Instead of quieting and allowing him to continue his speech in the same spirit that he listened to them, they repeated loudly and refused to yield until law enforcement escorted them outside. Later, at the intersection of State and Main streets, I spoke with a mom and daughter. Some acquaintances walked past, pausing to share their satisfaction about their protest activities. I inquired why they didn’t speak their piece and then allow the governor to speak so they could join the conversation to seek solutions as stakeholders instead of causing disruption and forcing expulsion. The adult male in the group snorted that “Everybody in that building is a liar”, and walked away to get food with the younger people. I felt those courageous kids were learning very unhelpful lessons in both political engagement and problem solving. If I treated my friends or family like that, my relationships would quickly fall apart. Civil discourse is important at every level of our lives, especially where we disagree or have problems to solve.

Sincerely,

Rep Charen Fegard

Franklin-5/Berkshire-Franklin-Highgate-Richford

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