Mass. legislature

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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

Let’s Make A Deal: Lawmakers To Release Compromise Health Cost Plan

Aidan Jones/flickr

Lawmakers in the Massachusetts House and Senate have reportedly reached a sweeping compromise plan to cut health care costs and change the way medical care is delivered and paid for in the state. Details of the proposal will be released later today.

WBUR’s Bianca Vazquez Toness reports that if the measure is approved, it would “mark the most significant overhaul of the state’s health care marketplace since former Gov. Mitt Romney signed a law requiring most residents to purchase health insurance.”

House and Senate lawmakers will likely vote on the health care cost overhaul tomorrow. That will give them limited time to discuss what will likely be a complicated bill. All legislation has to be wrapped up before the legislative year ends at midnight. And there’s more than health care to complete. Like college sophomores during exam time, lawmakers this year have left a mountain of unfinished business until the last minute.

Conference Committee Named For Mass. Health Care Cost Bill

Images of Money/flickr

Breaking news for the hardcore only…

State House News Service reports that legislative teams from the House and Senate are heading to the negotiating table to devise a single plan aimed at cutting health care costs through a variety of payment and delivery reforms:

Uxbridge Democrat Sen. Richard Moore and Lynn Democrat Rep. Steven Walsh will lead the Senate and House negotiating teams on omnibus legislation aimed at controlling health care costs and improving the quality of patient care by deploying new payment methods and other transparency and innovation measures.

Moore and Walsh will be joined on the six-member conference committee by Sen. Anthony Petruccelli (D-East Boston), co-chair of the Financial Services Committee, House Majority Leader Ronald Mariano (D-Quincy), Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester) and Rep. Jay Barrows (R-Mansfield). The negotiators were named Thursday as House and Senate members each voted to stand by their own proposals.

Moore and Walsh co-chair the Legislature’s Health Care Financing Committee, a panel that failed to forge an agreement on health care cost containment legislation after reviewing a bill file by Gov. Deval Patrick for more than a year. The committee ultimately decided to send Patrick’s bill to the Senate. Both branches subsequently developed their own heavily amended proposals (H 4155 and S 2270).

Mass. House Begins Debate On Sprawling Health Cost-Cutting Plan

State Rep. Steve Walsh introduces the new payment reform bill today as debate gets underway in the House

Debate is now underway in the Massachusetts House on the health care cost-cutting bill, a sprawling proposal to save $150 billion over 15 years by re-focusing medical care on prevention, changing the incentives and methods for paying doctors and hospitals, linking health-care spending to the state economy, and more. Debate is expected to run through today and pick up again tomorrow.

Introducing the bill this afternoon, Lynn Rep. Steven Walsh, the House chair of the Committee on Health Care Financing, tried to reassure those fearful that the plan could undermine the medical industry’s ability to provide top-notch care. Walsh said the bill won’t hurt the state’s premier health care industry which, he said, recently cared for his baby and “saved my son’s life.”

For those watching at home, here’s a handy guide to the flurry of amendments filed, put together by Joshua Archambault, of the Pioneer Institute. He writes:

275 amendments have been filed, and legislators appear to be more focused on social policy, labor policy, and special-interest carve outs than health delivery and payment reform. Some of the more colorful amendments consist of:
Social Policy: Studying sex ed in charter schools.(#30) 4 amendments dealing with family planning (#32, 139, 264, 265), removing ultrasound diagnostic imaging from the definition of an advanced diagnostic imaging service (#179), and health care equity (#217). Continue reading