A Healthy Blog

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

House Budget - Day 3

House Budget - Day 3

May 1, 2008

After tackling Veterans Services, State Finance and Assistance, and Health and Human Services, the House took up Public Health programs late last night, and passed a consolidated amendment increasing funding for a number of important programs. Increases were included for environmental health, HIV, substance abuse, and teen pregnancy prevention.

Funding for tobacco control programs was boosted by $1 million. An increase in the tobacco tax, such as the $1/pack increase passed by the House, leads to an increase in use of smoking cessation services. Tobacco prevention and cessation services play an important role in keeping Massachusetts residents healthy, and reduce long-term healthcare costs. Special thanks to Representative Kaprielian and the 22 co-sponsors of the tobacco control amendment for their spectacular advocacy.

The House also increased funding for oral health programs by $400,000, including earmarks for the Community Coalition of Cape Cod, Taunton Oral Health Clinic, and the Forsyth Institute’s Center for Children’s Oral Health. Unfortunately, specific funding for Tufts Dental Facilities was not included. Thousands of special needs residents in Massachusetts are served by Tufts Dental Facilities, a nationally recognized public program administered by Tufts University. The amendment filed by Representative Scibak would have fully funded the program so it can continue to provide essential oral health services to Massachusetts residents with special needs. An increase for the Office of Oral Health, which was cut by almost $1 million in the House Ways and Means budget, was also not included in the Public Health consolidated amendment. Representative Fagan filed an amendment that would sufficiently fund the Office. The full-time dental director in the Office of MassHealth works collaboratively with the department of public health to facilitate integration of programs to improve oral health. Thank you to Representatives Scibak and Fagan for continuing their advocacy during a tough budget cycle.

Today, the Early Education and Higher Education caucus starts at 11:30, and the session will start at 12 noon. The House will also take up the public safety and judiciary consolidated amendments today.
Suzanne Curry