A Healthy Blog

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

Health Care Market

23 Retail Clinics in Wal-Mart Stores Close Suddenly

From today's Wall Street Journal blog: A New York company called CheckUps shut down 23 clinics it was operating at Wal-Marts in Florida and three other southern states. CheckUps stopped paying some of its nurse practitioners in December, and owes more than $100,000 to an employment agency that provided nurses for the clinics, the New York Times reports. In the case of at least one of the clinics, the company gave Wal-Mart only a day’s notice that the closure was coming, according to the News Press, a Florida paper that reported the closure of a clinic in a Cape Coral, Fla. Wal-Mart. “I think... Read more »

Pharma Marketing Getting Wise to Us

The new Massachusetts Prescription Reform Coalition is drawing the attention of the pharmaceutical/biotech industry. The Massachusetts Biotechnology Council opened its panel on relationships between doctors and the industry at yesterday’s Annual Policy Leadership Luncheon by noting those in Massachusetts who are trying to regulate these relationships – UMass Memorial Health Care, Boston Medical Center and the coalition. According to the industry, any regulation of gifts from the industry to doctors (including disclosure requirements) threatens quality, care and innovation by preventing... Read more »

More Systems Getting Wise to Pharma Marketing

Hey, this is good. Let's keep the ball rolling, Massachusetts!!?? (From today's Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report: SMDC Health System, which operates four hospitals and 17 clinics in Minnesota and Wisconsin, recently removed all promotional gifts from pharmaceutical companies from the facilities -- a move that "underscored SMDC's decision to join the growing movement to ban gifts to doctors from drug companies," the AP/Washington Times reports. SMDC -- which collected 18,718 gifts, such as pens, notepads, coffee mugs and other items with logos for medications -- plans to send the items to a... Read more »

Growing Peril of Underinsurance

Former Globe Medical writer Alison Bass writes in today's Globe on the growing perils of underinsurance and the good work being done by our colleague organization, the Access Project, to address it. Worth a read and kudos to the Access Project. Read more »

A New Coalition is Launched

Yesterday, a diverse group of community organizations, local and national non-profit organizations, consumer advocates, insurers, and healthcare providers joined with Senator Mark Montigny, Senator Jim Marzilli and others at the State House to announce the launch of a new coalition. Members of the Massachusetts Prescription Reform Coalition are urging the state to enact controls on drug company marketing practices that contribute to the escalating cost of health care. Coalition members stressed the need to reign in health care costs to ensure the success of health reform. Prescription... Read more »

AG Coakley Names New Community Benefits Task Force

Attorney General Martha Coakley has set up a new Advisory Task Force on Community Benefits to review the AG Community Benefits Program. The task force held its first meeting yesterday and will consider ways to advance issues such as racial and ethnic health disparities and recommendations to streamline reporting requirements. “The new health reform law presents a unique opportunity to evaluate how our non-profit heath care institutions are responding to the needs of the underserved,” said Coakley. “Our Office has asked key stakeholders and public health experts from across the Commonwealth... Read more »

New Coalition to Tackle Drug Industry Marketing Practices

A new, diverse coalition is forming around prescription drug costs and inappropriate pharmaceutical industry marketing practices which contribute significantly to the steadily increasing high cost of health care. Health Care For All is joining forces with consumer advocates, non-profit organizations, insurers, and providers to launch the Massachusetts Prescription Reform Coalition (MPRC). The MPRC will hold its public launch tomorrow at 11am in Room 222 of the State House. Please click here for more details about the event. Read more »

Visual Goodness: Colorful New State Health Reform Resources

The Patrick administration continues to use innovative means to increase public understanding of health reform. Two pieces of evidence today: First is the way cool Tax Form HC Virtual Tour - an interactive video guide to the health care tax form posted by the Division of Revenue. In addition to flying text and soothing colors, the guide takes you step by step through the somewhat daunting task involved in filling out the tax form used to enforce the individual mandate. What's particularly valuable is that it leads you through an individualized process based on your personal situation. This... Read more »

Blog Readers Weigh in on Mini-Clinics

The Boston Globe's nicely done blog, White Coat Notes, generally does not trigger many reader comments. An exception is this past week's entry on Boston Mayor Tom Menino's vigorous opposition to the Department of Public Health's approval of limited retail medical clinics. Click here for the posting and comments and click here for an early posting. At least from this sample, commentators agree with DPH and disagree with the Mayor. Read more »

As the World Turnbulls -- The Conversation Goes On...

So the word, from various quarters, is that folks in the insurance industry around town are pretty angry with Nancy Turnbull and, by extension, moi for taking the cost control conversation away from the big enchilada -- rising medical costs -- and turning it to a minor distraction, namely, health plan administrative expenses. Check out Nancy's WBUR post by clicking here. Lots of additional comments including from BCBSMA and Charlie Baker. And click here for our most recent post and comments. A few comments: The underlying principle of MA health reform was "shared responsibility," referring... Read more »

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