A Healthy Blog

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

Prescription Drug Reform

National Health Reform is Good For Massachusetts: Prescription Sunshine

Today's guest blogger is Kate Petersen, communications coordinator for Community Catalyst, and a blogger for Postscript, their blog covering prescription drug issues. Provisions in national health care reform would require all drug companies, device, and medical supply manufacturers to fully disclose and report any gifts they make or financial arrangements they have with doctors, a physician practice or group. These ‘Sunshine provisions,’ modeled after a bill introduced in the Senate in 2007 by Senators Herb Kohl and Charles Grassley, have bipartisan, bicameral support, and were included in... Read more »

Found money! - Help Seniors!

The federal government announced that Massachusetts will no longer be required to make $132.7 million in scheduled payments to offset the cost of Medicare prescription drug coverage for those who are eligible for Medicare and Medicaid.  Check out the Globe story here. This money can provide enormous fiscal relief to Massachusetts through the end of 2010.  Read more »

Radio Boston To Cover Academic Detailing

This Friday at 1:00 pm, WBUR’s show Radio Boston will host Dr. Jerry Avorn and Dr. Leslie Jackowski in a discussion on academic detailing. Academic detailing is the evidence-based prescription drug outreach and education program that takes information learned through comparative effectiveness research on drugs and translates it into practice for health care practitioners. By using the tactics of pharma marketing, but providing objective information, the program generates better care and cost savings. Read more »

Data Mining Ban in National Health Reform?

Senators Kohl and Durbin introduced an amendment to the Senate health reform bill that would ban pharmaceutical data mining for marketing. (For a refresher, see this blog explaining data mining) As reported in the Associated Press, the sponsors of the amendment say that the measure will combat "harassing sales practices" and "restrain undue influence" of pharmaceutical salespersons. Read more »

41,000+ Seniors and Disabled To Lose Prescription Assistance

Budget cuts are eliminating benefits for over 41,300 low income people in Prescription Advantage, which helps seniors and some younger persons with disabilities afford their medications. After a series of budget cuts, starting Januaury 1 the program will only provide a fraction of the assistance it provided just a year ago. Read more »

Forum Looks at Successes in MassHealth Pharmacy Program

Community Catalyst, The Massachusetts Health Policy Forum and the Massachusetts Medicaid Policy Institute welcomed Boston’s medical and health policy community on Friday to discuss the MassHealth Prescription Drug Quality and Cost Management program. The forum began with a presentation on the findings of several researchers on implementation of the MassHealth Pharmacy Program . This was followed by a panel discussion of the strategies used to improve drug management and prescriber decision-making. Today’s forum served as an evaluation of MassHealth’s prescription policy changes and helps... Read more »

Prescription Advantage Cut Again

Note: this post is from Deborah Banda, State Director, AARP Massachusetts; we join AARP in questioning both the wisdom and the compassion in cutting Prescription Advantage again. Last Thursday, Governor Patrick closed part of the $600 million mid-year state budget gap by cutting $277 million from state agency budgets. The administration claims that the budget reductions maintain investments in core services. But not all core services were spared. The Prescription Advantage program, which helps seniors and some younger persons with disabilities afford their medications, will see an... Read more »

Heavy and Light on Pharma and Device Marketing

Two recent pieces of news on the pharmaceutical and medical device industry: First, the heavy: Yesterday, Courthouse News reported that Dr. David Gossman from Leahy Clinic was alleging he was fired for speaking up about ethical concerns. According to Dr. Gossman, a few doctors at the hospital had worked out an ‘arrangement’ with Medtronic, the worlds largest medical technology company. This arrangement involved the hospital getting access to cutting edge technology so long as they purchased a high enough volume of other devices sold by Medtronic. Additionally, one of these doctors... Read more »

"We should be just as concerned about our commitment to our values as we are about the value of our commitments"

Citing a new mantra - “Leadership Through Values” - Governor Patrick announced $352 million in cuts to the FY10 state budget this afternoon. He described how he balanced his constitutional duty with his moral values: “Those values include creating good jobs at good wages, offering a world-class education to our kids, delivering quality, affordable health care to our residents, protecting and supporting the most vulnerable – those are the values to which we as a Commonwealth are committed. So as I meet my statutory responsibility to bring the budget in line, I do so according to my moral... Read more »

Pharma Phollies in Globe (UPDATE - Globe Editorial, Too)

Yesterday’s Boston Globe includes a pair of stories on the Mass. pharma industry: one on the doctors who took speakers’ fees from Eli Lilly and the other announcing that Boston is hosting the biggest annual biotech convention. We find it poetic that these two stories are paired up and note that despite great fear of a chill, our gift ban and disclosure law have not brought on an ice age. Read more »

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