A Healthy Blog

Massachusetts health care — wonky, with a healthy dose of reality

The Final Countdown

The Final Countdown

July 30, 2010

UPDATE 4:00 pm Friday: State House News Service is reporting that the conference committee compromise preserves the pharma and medical device gift ban and marketing restrictions. HCFA thanks the conferees and the House and Senate leadership for their support.

Time is short, so we’ll be brief:

With a day and a half remaining in the formal legislative sessions, it's now or never for anything controversial. The small business/individual health care premium cost control bill is the most important health priority in the pipeline. We hear the conference committee is making progress and we look forward to a bill being ready tonight so it can be voted on tomorrow. Also,

  • The Legislature should not repeal the drug and device company gift ban and disclosure law. It would be a step backwards on health care cost containment and giving patients information they deserve about their providers. Put patients ahead of profits.

    This sentiment is echoed in today’s Boston Globe:

    … Economic development. House and Senate leaders part company on multiple aspects of a complex economic-development bill. Here are two: First, in the guise of helping restaurateurs, the House would repeal a recent law requiring drug and medical device companies to disclose substantial gifts to medical professionals. The disclosure rules should stay, because drug and device marketing drives up health care costs…

  • Health coverage for over 20,000 low-income legal immigrants hangs in the balance. Unless something happens, the Commonwealth Care Bridge program ends August 31. The Governor has asked for authority to keep the program going on fumes for a few more months, and the legislature should grant that authority.
  • Congress is going to make another try to extend enhanced FMAP, with the Senate vote scheduled next Monday. The legislature should not lose the opportunity to direct where those funds go (if they are approved), and override the Governor's vetoes of FMAP-dependent line items.

-Mehreen Butt and Georgia Maheras