A Healthy Blog

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

Public Health

AG Releases '07 Hospital Community Benefit Reports

MA Attorney General Martha Coakley today released the 2007 Community Benefit Hospital Reports. Last year, Massachusetts hospitals provided over $271 million in community benefits programs to Massachusetts residents as part of this voluntary program. All non-profit acute care hospitals are asked to submit their community benefits reports to the Attorney General’s Office annually by February 28th. ... Read more »

House Ways & Means Releases FY09 Budget Plan

The House Committee on Ways and Means released its FY09 budget proposal today. The $27.9B budget includes $100M+ in cost savings. At today’s press conference, Chairman Robert DeLeo said his number one priority was to keep the state’s commitment to cities and towns. DeLeo said his Committee went through the budget line by line to ensure that cuts didn’t “cripple” specific agencies or hurt the Commonwealth’s most vulnerable citizens. DeLeo addressed the need for new revenue, citing the cigarette tax recently passed in the House. DeLeo said this budget will “lay the groundwork for the... Read more »

Public Health Council Discusses DON and Death

At today’s Public Health Council meeting, Dr. Paul Dreyer discussed the need for new Determination of Need (DON) regulations. Dreyer said MA spends the most money in the nation on health care, yet has the 6th lowest hospitalization utilization rate and number of beds in the country. Dreyer asserted the Commonwealth needs more hospital beds and will need even more in the future. According to Dreyer, MA health reform is one reason: an increasing demand for access to care and an increasing shortage of PCPs and OBs. He also proposed an end to grandfathering approvals for new technology such as... Read more »

The "Urge for Going" Is Spreading

Leadership changes are in the wind these days. Two recent announcements of note: Ali Noorani, the dynamic executive director of the MA Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition since November 2003, is moving to new challenges in Washington DC. Ali helped to turn around an organization in trouble and has been a respected and courageous advocate and spokesperson on immigration and refugee issues. He will be missed around town. And Michael DeChiara, executive director of Community Partners, the Amherst-based health access organization, is also stepping down this summer. Here's a bit of his... Read more »

Strong Voter Support for Increased Tobacco Taxes

Yesterday, Tobacco Free Mass released new polling data on public attitudes toward raising the cigarette tax in Massachusetts. (Both Speaker DiMasi and Senate Pres. Murray have indicated support for a $1 increase this year.) Conducted late in January by Kiley & Company, the poll demonstrates clear statewide support. From the Executive Summary: Read more »

In Honor of March -- and Spring

Check this out -- The World Clock -- with numbers of deaths from multiple causes rising right before you eyes. Warning: this can get a little addictive. If it gets too much for you, go to the articles on "spiritual awakenings." Spring's around the corner, so happy March everyone. 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 »

Packed Public Health Council Meeting Report

The Public Health Council, which approves all DPH regulations, met today with three diverse and major issues on the agenda. First, DPH released its new tobacco control program. Second, Baystate Medical Center got approval for its expansion. Third, the Council weighed in on hospital acquired infections. Read more »

United Health Rankings: We're #9

Each year, the United Health Foundation produces state rankings on a variety of health, health care, and social indicators -- click here for the Massachusetts data and for access to the full report. This year, we're #9 among the 50 states, down from #7 in 2006. The relative slip is pretty minor. The report shows some of our strengths and some of our weaknesses: Strengths: Massachusetts is among the top ten states on 11 of the 20 measures. Strengths include high immunization coverage with 86.9 percent of children ages 19 to 35 months receiving complete immunizations, a low occupational... Read more »

Health Care's "Dangerous Numbers"

One of my favorite political models is Jon Kingdon’s “agenda setting” construct which suggests that for policy change “window of opportunity” to open, three streams have to move – the sense of a problem, the existence of a practical policy, and a supportive political environment. It starts with a sense of a problem. If folks don’t accept that an issue is a legit problem, then it’s back to square one. We saw this in late 1993/early 1994 as Republican opponents to the Clinton health reform plan (prominently William Kristol) launched attacks by asserting there was no health system “crisis”... Read more »

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