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

Health Care Politics

Pharma Company Threatens to Leave MA If It Can’t Give Gifts

Today, the drug industry leveled its newest response to the proposed ban on gifts to health care providers (passed by the Senate last month) – more of a threat than a response. In a letter reported in today’s Herald, GlaxoSmithKline accused the state of being mean to the industry and told the Governor and Speaker that the company will reconsider its ties to Massachusetts if a gift ban is imposed. All this as the state moves to invest $1 billion in the life sciences industry. Read more »

Clinton, Obama and Massachusetts health reform: Untangling the confusion

Yale political scientist and health reform expert Jacob Hacker has written an important post untangling the confusion many feel in the back-and-forth between Clinton and Obama over health care (read it here). Hacker explains how the virtually identical structure in both candidate's plans have been hidden in the vitriol over their modest differences: So what’s the main story: (1) a basic Democratic consensus about what should be done, or (2) a widening policy divide fueled by presidential ambitions? The answer is (1), but unfortunately, the reality of (2) is increasingly upstaging this welcome... Read more »

National Dems Tepid on Health Reform

This is either really smart or really dumb. From The Hill: Dems Hedge on Healthcare. Congressional Democrats are backing away from healthcare reform promises made by their two presidential candidates, saying that even if their party controls the White House and Congress, sweeping change will be difficult. ... “We all know there is not enough money to do all this stuff,” said Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), a Finance Committee member and an Obama supporter, referring to the presidential candidates’ healthcare plans. “What they are doing is … laying out their ambitions.” ... Read more »

Senate Debates Cost Control Today -- 54 Amendments

The State Senate meets today at 1pm in full formal session to debate Sen. President Murray's cost control legislation. Click here to see the full text all 54 amendments filed by yesterday's 5pm amendment deadline. Read more »

Big Pharma Gears Up for a Fight over Gifts to Docs

Fight of the week -- Big Pharma vs. the Public. Sen. Murray's cost control legislation -- scheduled for release tomorrow and for Senate floor debate on Thursday -- includes provisions banning gifts from drug and medical device makers to physicians because of well-established evidence that such gifts inappropriately influence physician prescribing behavior. The industry is now fighting back (from today's State House News Service): Read more »

Murray Cost Control Bill Moves on ... Unchanged

Today the Legislature's Joint Committee on Health Care Financing favorably reported S2526, Senate President Murray’s Cost Control Bill. No changes were made and 52 other bills were attached (list will be posted here tomorrow). State House News Service reports the Senate is planning floor action on the measure on April 17. Sen. Dick Moore, Committee Co-Chair, said the bill was being reported to Senate Ways & Means so the Senate could work on the bill while the House does the FY09 budget. Moore assured Committee members that staff are looking at all testimony and will find ways to... Read more »

Elizabeth Edwards' Three Questions for McCain

Kudos to Elizabeth Edwards, wife of former Democratic Presidential candidate John Edwards, for taking on presumptive Republican Presidential nominee Sen. John McCain on the stark insufficiency of his health care proposal. Noting that neither she nor McCain, as cancer victims, would be eligible for private coverage under insurance rules which permit "medical underwriting," she goes on to ask McCain three questions: "1. Under your plan, Senator McCain, would any health insurer be required to sell you or me (or those like us with pre-existing conditions) a health insurance policy? "2. You say... Read more »

On Costs, Rep. Walrath Keeps Us Guessing

From State House News Service: On Senate President Murray's Cost Control legislation, Rep. Walrath keeps us guessing: The House leader of the committee examining Senate President Therese Murray’s health care cost control bill said the committee was working to affix a price tag to each section of the bill. “I’ve got staff working on it, but we’ve got to do section by section how much this bill is going to cost,” said Rep. Patricia Walrath, co-chair of the Committee on Health Care Financing. On announcing the bill, Murray noted that a provision to promote electronic medical records would cost... Read more »

Signs of Progress -- 59% of Docs Support National Health Insurance

From Reuters: More than half of U.S. doctors now favor switching to a national health care plan and fewer than a third oppose the idea, according to a survey published on Monday. The survey suggests that opinions have changed substantially since the last survey in 2002 and as the country debates serious changes to the health care system. Of more than 2,000 doctors surveyed, 59 percent said they support legislation to establish a national health insurance program, while 32 percent said they opposed it, researchers reported in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine. The 2002 survey found... Read more »

Poll: Republicans Think US Health System Is the Best; Dems/Indies Disagree

Every once in a while, a piece of survey research appears that is so "spot on" it blows my mind. That was my reac when I saw the new Bob Blendon survey on partisan differences in opinions about how good the US health care system is. Click here for the report. Bottom line: Read more »

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