jeffrey sanchez

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Mass. Minors Buying E-Cigs? Maybe Not For Long.

(Wikimedia Commons)

(Wikimedia Commons)

I was shocked to find out that minors can buy electronic cigarettes in the state of Massachusetts.

But not for much longer, if a new piece of legislation has its way.

The bill, released today by state Rep. Jeffrey Sánchez, co-chair of the Joint Committee on Public Health, seeks to fix the loophole that allows the free sale of electronic cigarettes and other nicotine delivery products. Though cigarettes are tightly regulated under the Tobacco Control Act of 2009, the FDA and other federal organizations do not currently regulate the sale of alternative nicotine delivery products.

The current state of disarray is caused in part by the development of new tobacco products since the passage of the 2009 act. According to a press release and accompanying fact sheet, Sanchez’s bill would define existing and future tobacco and nicotine delivery products, such as e-cigarettes, ensuring that future products would also be subject to regulation. It would restrict sales of any of these products to minors under the age of 18. And it would prevent the use of electronic cigarettes everywhere that smoking is banned, including in the workplace.

Currently, 12 other states regulate the sale of e-cigarettes: Continue reading

Unanimous Committee Thumbs Up For Primary Care Bill

Rep. Jeffrey Sanchez

This just in from the office of Rep. Jeffrey Sanchez, co-chair of the committee:

BOSTON—The Joint Committee on Public Health voted unanimously in favor of “An act supporting the practice of primary care in the commonwealth.” Sponsored by Representative Jeffrey Sánchez, co-chair of the Committee, the bill eases statutory burdens to maximize the role of physician assistants and nurse practitioners in order to improve access to care for patients and free up physicians’ time for complicated cases requiring their expertise.

“While Massachusetts’ 2006 health reform made incredible gains in coverage, further work is required to transform the health care workforce into a more team-based approach to primary care,” Sánchez said. “As the Commonwealth moves forward in payment reform, it is crucial that we have a strong primary care workforce that can ensure all our residents are healthy and have access to quality care.”

In the context of payment reform, the Rand Report to the Special Commission on the Health Care Payment System projected savings up to $8.4 billion over 10 years if we enhanced patient care through increased utilization of nurse practitioners and physician assistants.

Increasing the number of primary care practitioners requires a multi-faceted approach. The bill reported out of Committee was amended to include a special commission on family physicians and other primary care physicians in community care settings.

As Rachel wrote here in April, the Massachusetts Medical Society opposed several bills this session that sought to enhance the status of non-physician providers, from nurse midwives to physicians assistants, arguing that they could endanger patients. (Jeff Sanchez’s response to their opposition is here.)

On other bills, from the public health committee:

The Committee also favorably reported bills relating to the scope of practice of optometrists and podiatrists, allowing for these providers to treat more conditions within the scope of their education and training, increasing access to these services.
Other bills reported favorably include An Act to eliminate racial and ethnic health disparities in the Commonwealth, An Act to establish community based grant programs to eliminate racial and ethnic health disparities in the Commonwealth and An Act to increase routine screening for HIV.

Rep. Jeffrey Sanchez: Make Massachusetts Patients Safer

Rep. Jeffrey Sanchez


This Tuesday, the Massachusetts legislature’s Joint Committee on Public Health is slated to hold a hearing on 33 — count ‘em, 33 — proposed bills on patient safety and quality of care. (The agenda is here.) Here, Rep. Jeffrey Sánchez, the joint committee’s House chair, writes a guest post about his own legislative offering, to be heard at the hearing along with the others.

(CommonHealth welcomes guest posts on health care topics of broad public interest. To inquire about submitting one, please click on the “Get in Touch” button below.)

In Massachusetts, we’re surrounded by some of the best health care institutions and practitioners in the world and don’t typically think patient safety is an area that needs to be addressed. But unfortunately, accidents happen.

Back in 1999, the Institute of Medicine released an eye-opening study, “To Err is Human,” which found that nearly 100,000 people die every year in the United States due to medical errors. As the report’s title suggests, these errors aren’t malicious or intentional; they are often a result of systems or a culture that make it too easy for mistakes to occur. We need to encourage systems that make it difficult, if not impossible, to make an error.

Another area that must be addressed in order to improve patient safety is the rate of health-care-associated infections. Each year in the Commonwealth, there are about 34,000 such infections. In addition to delaying recoveries and affecting quality of life, these infections have a significant financial impact, costing the Commonwealth between $200 and $400 million annually.

There are shining examples right here in Massachusetts of the type of systemic changes that are necessary to address these patient safety issues. Dr. Atul Gawande, a surgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, was part of a team that developed a simple two-minute checklist for use in surgery that has seen a drop in deaths and complications of an astounding 36%. New England Baptist Hospital instituted a program to screen and treat patients for MRSA (methicillin-resistant staph) and ended up reducing all surgical site infections by almost 60%. The Massachusetts Hospital Association and the Massachusetts Coalition for the Prevention of Medical Errors are also working together to reduce the number of central line-associated blood stream infections.

These types of initiatives should be implemented across the Commonwealth. To do so, I have filed House Bill 1519, An Act reducing medical errors and improving patient safety. This bill, which is among those to be heard on Tuesday, includes: Continue reading