A Healthy Blog

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

Public Health

Legislative Budget Season Kicks Off with a New Attitude

The House and Senate Committees on Ways and Means held its first budget hearing yesterday at Roxbury Community College. The six and a half hour event was chaired by Senator Jack Hart (D-South Boston) and Representative Gloria Fox (D-Roxbury). The hearing was an opportunity for the committee to hear from half of the departments within EOHHS about their legislative priorities and initiatives as well as what impact the state’s current fiscal crisis has on the agency that accounts for nearly 50% of the state’s budget. This particular hearing looked and felt a little different from hearings HCFA... Read more »

House One Budget Released

Governor Patrick started the FY 2010 budget process today with the filing of House 1, the administration's budget proposal. Given the steep decline in existing revenues, the budget was bound to be a good news/bad news situation. The budget proposes no direct cuts to benefits or eligibility in health coverage programs. The Governor's deep commitment to health reform is maintained. But deep cuts in public health, along with ongoing cuts in provider rates for public programs, will stretch our health safety net and threaten gains made in the past years. We're still looking at the details... Read more »

2.6 BILLION Reasons to Delay Implementing Health Budget Cuts

Two separate State House rallies today made the case against further health cuts. And now an analysis of the proposed federal economic recovery package shows that Massachusetts should be receiving sufficient federal health funds to stave off further cuts -- and possibly reverse current cuts. The first rally was sponsored by United We Stand For Public Health, a reborn coalition to protect our invaluable public health system. Several hundred people gathered in Nurses Hall to hear how public health cuts hurt - and how the strength of our community depends on public health. Later, the "Put... Read more »

United We Stand For Public Health

On Thursday, January 22nd, The United We Stand For Public Health Coalition will be holding a press event at the State House in Nurses Hall at 1PM. The Press event is a call to protect public health in the state’s budget cuts. Programs in the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) were cut by $28 million during the October 9C cuts, which was 4.78% of its FY09 budget, one of the highest percentage cuts of any EOHHS agency and among the highest percentage cuts for any area of state government. As a result of the October 2008 9C cuts, MDPH lost nearly 100 positions, including... Read more »

A Healthy Exception to the Bad Revenue News

Today Governor Patrick announced that continued revenue declines will mean more midyear budget cuts. As much as $1 billion in further cuts may be needed. “There’s a lot of pain, and it’s going to have to be spread around,” Patrick said. But there's one area where tax revenue is up, and it's improving Bay State health as well. In July, the legislature and governor increased the cigarette tax by $1 a pack, enacting a key priority of HCFA, the ACT!! Coalition and Tobacco Free Mass. The additional revenue goes to fund health reform. At the time, we said the increase would both decrease smoking... Read more »

DPH Releases Data and Advice

Researchers from the Bureau of Health Information, Statistics, Research and Evaluation presented findings of the health profiles of Massachusetts adults to the Public Health Council lat week. The study, A Profile of Health among Massachusetts Adults, 2007, surveyed the health status, health indicators and race/ethnic health disparities in adults throughout 2007. The results suggested that young, low education attainment and non-white individuals had the lowest percentage of health insurance coverage. However, since the implementation of Chapter 58 health insurance rates in all high-risk... Read more »

New Tobacco Restrictions Keeps Boston Residents Healthy

Prevention efforts are critical to keeping residents of the Commonwealth healthy. Dental disease, a critical part of overall health, can be prevented, in part, by prevention of smoking and use of tobacco-related products. The Boston Public Health Commission has taken another important step in preventing smoking and keeping our community healthy. In Massachusetts, one in five adults and more than one in four high school students smoke, totaling nearly one million residents. Each year more than 9,000 Bay Staters will die prematurely from tobacco; approximately 114 of those deaths are related to... Read more »

Keeping our Veterans Healthy

Massachusetts has a long history of leading the way in protecting the health of its residents, and a new program by The Massachusetts Department of Veterans’ Services (DVS) and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) continues this legacy. DVS and DPH recently announced a nicotine patch giveaway for Massachusetts veterans, their family members, and survivors who want to quit smoking. Massachusetts veterans and their family members who call the Massachusetts Smokers Helpline at 1-800-Try-To-Stop will receive a free four-week supply of nicotine patches valued at $100 retail, along... Read more »

Difficult Cuts

Yesterday Governor Patrick released his budget cuts, required under state law due to declining revenues. Detailed information is available on the state web site, here. The cuts -- which add up to more than $1 billion -- could not be done without hitting health care programs. Health care is about a third of the state budget, and health care programs took their share of the cuts. Some important priorities were spared, however, and we commend the Governor, Secretary Kirwan and Secretary Bigby for keeping the solid commitment to the success of health reform. Read more »

Public Health Council: The Future Starts Now

The Public Health Council held its monthly meeting on Wednesday, August 13. The Council heard a presentation on the cost containment legislation (signed into law by Governor Patrick on August 10) and its impact on the Department of Public Health (DPH). DPH Commissioner John Auerbach explained that the Council’s responsibilities were to understand the legislative intent of the cost control bill and help to develop and implement the necessary regulatory changes. The Council discussed the provisions of the bill related to health care quality, electronic medical records, Determination of Need,... Read more »

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