A Healthy Blog

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

Public Health

Make the Call - Support Alcohol Taxes For Public Health

Please call your representative about the alcohol tax in the conference budget. The Senate included a provision closing the alcohol exclusion loophole in the sales tax. The funds collected would be dedicated to a number of public health programs. Without these resources, public health funding falls further behind again. Rep. Liz Malia and Rep. Marty Walsh have drafted a letter in support of the alcohol tax to the Speaker and Ways and Means Chair Murphy – and we want other Representatives to sign on. Here's the text: We the undersigned members of the House fully support, and urge that you... Read more »

Funding of Public Health – a Necessity now more then ever

Commissioner Jon Auerbach of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) spoke Friday afternoon to a packed room as part of Health Law Advocates’ Brown Bag Luncheon Series. Commissioner Auerbach’s talk covered three hot-issue topics: the current H1N1 virus pandemic (more commonly known as Swine Flu), the effects of the current budget debates on DPH, and a new Public Health initiative to combat obesity, chronic disease, and promote wellness. Read more »

Senate Approves Sales, Alcohol Tax Increases; Some Funds Targeted to Health

Tuesday evening, the Senate matched the House's approval of a 1.25-cent increase in the sales tax, and agreed to extend the sales tax to alcoholic beverages. We applaud the 29 Senators who voted for the sales tax increase, and congratulate Senators Walsh and Tolman who tirelessly pushed extending the sales tax to alcohol as part of an effort to adequately fund substance abuse programs. As part of the vote, the Senate leadership distributed a list of budget cut restorations that will paid for by the increased revenue. The restorations included a number of important health-related priorities of... Read more »

What's Not in the Senate Budget Proposal (UPDATED)

The Senate Ways and Means Committee released its version of the FY10 state budget today (text here), which even Committee Chair Panagiotakos described as "draconian.” The key question will be whether the Senate joins the House in embracing new revenue provisions critical to maintaining vital services. With tax revenue declining, the Senate based its budget on a tax revenue estimates at $17.989 billion, $1.54 billion less than the estimate used by the House and the Governor. HCFA will be joining hundreds of other groups next Monday at noon to call for new revenues. Or join the ONE... Read more »

House Budget - Amendments Strengthen Health Programs

The House started the week with a budget with appropriations at $27.44 billion, with $19.53 billion from taxes. On Monday, the House voted to increase the sales tax from 5% to 6.25%, bringing in an additional $900 million. They voted to allocate $205 million of those additional funds towards local aid. The left over amount has been used throughout the week for consolidated line item amendments. HCFA’s coalitions continued to advocate for vital state funded programs. The week had both good and bad news. On Tuesday, the House recognized the importance of children’s mental health by... Read more »

Stand For Public Health: State House, 2:30 Today

A coalition of more than 80 organizations, United We Stand for Public Health, has come together to protect public health funding in the Commonwealth. The lobby day is 2:30 pm today at the State House Nurses Hall. The speakers include Representative Jeffrey Sanchez (Co-Chair of the Public Health Committee), Senator Richard Moore (Co-Chair of the Health Care Finance Committee), Barbara Ferrer, (Executive Director, Boston Public Health Commission) and Lucilia Prates (Health Care For All Consumer Health Quality Council). Read more »

HCFA Says: Raising revenue = reducing cuts

Today at noon, Health Care For All supported the Stop the Cuts coalition in a State House rally. Members of the coalition – including SEIU, Neighbor to Neighbor, NASW, Coalition for Social Justice – packed the hearing room to hear from speakers about the importance of raising revenues to protect services. From the coalition’s media advisory: “As the House begins the tough debate on their FY10 budget…a broad coalition of advocates for schools, working families, and our communities will simultaneously be holding an event and lobby day to show lawmakers the detrimental effects over $1 billion... Read more »

Raise Revenue and Stop the Cuts: State House Events This Week

One Massachusetts image illustrating ecology of state structures we rely on Three State House events will allow us to let our Representatives know that the public supports increased revenue to maintain our system of public structures that keep our communities safe and healthy, educate our children, and draw businesses to our state. 1. As the House considers revenue proposals today, the broad Stop The Cuts Coalition will gather today (Monday 4/27) at noon in State House room B-1. The message is we need to raise new revenue to invest in our future and reduce these cuts so we can invest in our... Read more »

Grim

The House Ways and Means Committee released their proposed FY2010 budget today. The budget cuts deeply into health priorities, including prescription drugs for seniors, public health prevention programs, mental health, and other areas. Without restoration of these cuts and new revenues to rebuild our health infrastructure, these cuts will harm the health of vulnerable Bay Staters. Deep CutsPublic health programs took wrenching cuts. The House Ways and Means proposal calls for cutting nearly a quarter of the DPH budget compared to the FY09 budget, and some areas were cut deeper. Compared to FY... Read more »

Public Health Council Meeting on Infections and SREs

The Public Health Council meets on Wednesday, April 8 at 9 am in the Public Health Council Room at 250 Washington Street (full docket). On the agenda, two presentations. Dr. Paul Dryer will be presenting on "Infection Prevention and Control Preliminary Report" and will also report on Serious Reportable Events (SREs) in MA Hosptials in 2008. HCFA and its Quality Initiative advocated for the public reporting of SREs, which was included as part of the requirements of Chaparter 305. Read more »

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