A Healthy Blog

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

Public Health

MassHealth Smoking Cessation Program Works – DPH Releases Data Tomorrow at State House

This Thursday, November 19th is the 2009 Great American Smokeout, a project initiated by the American Cancer Society to educate the public about the health risks of smoking and encouraging them to quit, while shining a light on resources available to those who are trying to quit. In Massachusetts, one of the most successful programs to address smoking is the MassHealth smoking cessation benefit. Tomorrow, the Massachusetts Tobacco Cessation and Prevention Program is releasing data showing the significant health impact of the state's MassHealth cessation benefit. What: Tobacco Cessation and... Read more »

Public Health Council to Meet Wednesday

DPH’s Public Health Council will be having their monthly meeting on Wednesday starting at 9:00 AM. Two interesting presentations on the schedule (pdf). First, the release of the Betsy Lehman Center’s report of the expert panel in obstetrics. The Center’s Director, Nancy Ridley, will be presenting. Nancy will be retiring at the end of the month after advocating for and leading the Betsy Lehman Center since its opening. Second, there will be a presentation on smoking cessation programs as a health care cost containment strategy. HCFA believes that investments in smoking cessation programs saves... Read more »

Find a Flu Clinic Near You (RAP UPDATE)

Flu season is coming upon us quickly. The Massachusetts Public Flu Clinic Finder website (flu.masspro.org)locates public flu clinics in Massachusetts. Right now there are about 800, with more being added every day. Currently, the clinics listed are providing season flu immunizations and some clinics are offering pneumococcal (“pneumonia”) immunizations. The site also has links to the most current information on both seasonal and H1N1 vaccines from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and the CDC. When the H1N1 (swine flu) vaccine becomes available, the website will list the public... Read more »

A Sweet Tax Idea

As we get closer to the October 15 deadline for the possibility of another round of mid-year "9C" budget cuts, which could further reduce health programs, a new study should resurrect an important revenue proposal made by Governor Patrick earlier this year. The study in the New England Journal of Medicine looks at the health and fiscal benefits of imposing an excise tax on sweetened sodas and other beverages. Earlier, the Governor proposed eliminating the sales tax exemption on candy and sweetened soda. This change would generate approximately $55 million in revenue, which would be earmarked... Read more »

Public Health Council Meeting Wednesday

The Public Health Council will have its September meeting on Wednesday, September 9th beginning at 9am at 250 Washington Street. Click here for the agenda. Read more »

Pandemic Flu Preparation - Not Black Helicopters

The paranoid birthers/deathers have a new imaginary danger in their sights: the efforts in Massachusetts to protect the public against the very real possibility of a serious flu outbreak. Using phrases like "medical fascism," the far-right online world is bristling with anger. Here's an example, from the hard-right but well-read World Net Daily: "A 'pandemic response bill' currently making its way through the Massachusetts state legislature would allow authorities to forcefully quarantine citizens in the event of a health emergency, compel health providers to vaccinate citizens, authorize... Read more »

DPH Looks at Human Rights and Public Health

If you see someone drowning in a river you should swim out to save them; and when another person is seen floundering in the tides, you can do the same for them. This is the medical approach to solving health care issues. To go upriver and see who is throwing people in the water—that is the public health approach. Dr. Michael A. Grodin, a professor at Boston University’s School of Public Health, used this analogy to illustrate the difference between today’s existing dual models of health care. Dr. Grodin addressed a standing room only crowd yesterday at the DPH’s “A Dialogue on Human Rights... Read more »

Public Health Council Meeting Wednesday

The Public Health Council will meet on Wednesday at 9AM in the Public Health Council Room at 250 Washington Street. There will be a presentation on H1N1 Preparation and Planning. Click here for the full agenda. Read more »

Public Health Council Meets to Vote on New Regulations

The Public Health Council led by Commissioner John Auerbach met the morning of Wednesday, June 25th to discuss and vote on a host of public health issues and regulations. The meeting began with a discussion to codify a definition of the term “Public Health Provider” that would allow residents of the Commonwealth to choose nurse practitioners as their PCP’s rather than just physicians. The Council voted to approve this change in the regulations. Defining the term in this way will significantly ease primary care access for many Massachusetts residents while alleviating some of the costs of... Read more »

Why the Alcohol Sales Tax is a Good Idea for Public Health—and for Massachusetts

[guest blog post from the United We Stand For Public Health Coalition] Public health funding in Massachusetts is already in crisis, even before the further cuts planned for the coming year. The $32 million cut from public health this fiscal year has meant loss of Early Intervention services to 3000 young children, over $6 million in cuts to immunizations, cuts to the State Laboratory (critical to responding to H1N1), and over $3 million in cuts to substance abuse services—to choose a few examples out of many. In the next fiscal year, public health is slated to lose an additional $52 - $79... Read more »

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