A Healthy Blog

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

Last Dance, Last Dance, for L..........legislation

Last Dance, Last Dance, for L..........legislation

July 31, 2008

Today's the last day of the formal legislative session. Like every two years, the final days are a blur of activity as the House and Senate rush to get through an agenda that can't all fit in the time left. Both branches worked to midnight last night, and will again tonight. Here's where the key HCFA priorities stand: Health Cost and Quality: Yesterday both the House and Senate appointed a formal conference Committee to tie up the differences between the two bills. The House conferees are Representatives Walrath, Bosley and Hargraves; on the Senate side are Senators Moore, Panagiotakos, and Tisei. Rumor has it that the ban on gifts from pharmaceutical companies to doctors is a major sticking point. We strongly urge the conferees to support the ban. Research shows that pharmaceutical gifts of all sizes influence prescribing decisions, leading to increased prescribing of the highest-cost and least proven drugs. A legislative gift ban is the most effective way to prevent this threat to affordability and patient safety. Click here for further information and to contact legislators. This bill is a top legislative priority, and we expect a final bill to make it through the system today. Children's Mental Health and Oral Health bills: These bills are both on the bubble, and we are pushing to get them advanced today. Neither has any substantive opposition, and the only question is whether they will get done by the deadline. The oral health bill was featured yesterday on WBUR's blog in a post by Katherine Pelullo of the Dental Hygienists’ Association. Click here for information on how to contact your legislator in support of the bill. The children's mental health bill complements the parity legislation that passed earlier in the week. The mental health care system in Massachusetts is failing our children. Some 100,000 children do not receive the care and treatment that they need. Click here to contact your legislator in support of this vital bill. Health Reform Funding: The Senate yesterday followed the House's lead and approved a supplemental appropriations bill that includes the health reform revenue provisions. An amendment to drop the quarterly Fair Share assessment sections was defeated on a voice vote. Late last night, the House agreed to a final version of the bill that melds the House and Senate versions (the differences did not relate to health reform funding). The Senate needs to agree to this as well today, and then several procedural votes must occur in both branches before the bill goes to the Governor. No problems are expected with this bill. We'll be hanging out in the State House all day watching democracy do its thing, as well as the Manny watch. Feel free to join us.