A Healthy Blog

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

Public Health Council Meets to Vote on New Regulations

Public Health Council Meets to Vote on New Regulations

June 25, 2009

The Public Health Council led by Commissioner John Auerbach met the morning of Wednesday, June 25th to discuss and vote on a host of public health issues and regulations.

The meeting began with a discussion to codify a definition of the term “Public Health Provider” that would allow residents of the Commonwealth to choose nurse practitioners as their PCP’s rather than just physicians. The Council voted to approve this change in the regulations. Defining the term in this way will significantly ease primary care access for many Massachusetts residents while alleviating some of the costs of our health care system.

The Office of Patient Protections then discussed some of its work in monitoring insurance grievances and conducting external insurance provider reviews.

Next, an amendment was introduced to current regulations that force all college students to have up-to-date immunization records prior to matriculation. The amendment added kindergarteners, 7th graders, health science students, and considered adding community college students to this list. The amendment would also expand the list of the required immunizations these students would need to receive prior to beginning school.

Finally, the Council discussed the merits of requiring HIV screenings for all Massachusetts residents aged 13-64 regardless of risk. This discussion comes in the wake of a study demonstrating that screening in Massachusetts dramatically lowers the transmission of HIV, and that 54% of HIV transmissions are caused by the 25% of people who do not know that they are infected. Those at high risk for infection may be asked to get screenings annually.

The Public Health Council will meet again in August.

Brian Schon
Policy Intern