Massachusetts Medical Society: Court's groundbreaking ruling favors MMS argument on medication treatment in jail

Court's groundbreaking ruling favors MMS argument on medication treatment in jail


2018 Interim Meeting

For a report on the 2018 Interim Meeting — new policy, live learning opportunities, and social events — look out for our special edition of Vital Signs This Week early next week.

What’s up in advocacy and policy

Federal court grants injunction in favor of MMS amicus brief
In a groundbreaking decision, the federal court ruled this week in favor of a position that the MMS argued in an amicus brief.This is the first federal court decision to acknowledge that a substandard opioid use disorder treatment program likely violates the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Eighth Amendment prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment.

The plaintiff, Geoffrey Pesce, has opioid use disorder, and has abstained from drug use for two years, on a methadone maintenance program. Mr. Pesce, who faced a 60-day sentence in the Essex County Jail, was told that the jail's policy would deny his methadone, and detox him with no medication-assisted treatment. The MMS filed an amicus brief — a legal document intended to provide expert testimony on a specific aspect of a court case — stating that the jail's policy fell unethically short of the evidence-based standard of care for patients with opioid use disorder.

The MMS is pleased to report that the federal court granted Mr. Pesce's and the ACLU’s request for a preliminary injunction, meaning the jail will be compelled to provide his methadone. We will continue to follow this case, and will serve as a resource as needed. Click below for a summary; the full case is also available.


Get noticed


Bring your performance to our show

Physicians — we know medicine is not your only skill. Please share your music, comedy, dance, or other talent with your friends and colleagues at our spring 2019 talent show. Seasoned performer? Getting ready to venture onstage for the first time? Either way, this is the show for you. The event will be held at the Seaport/World Trade Center Ampitheater, Boston (part of the MMS Annual Meeting 2019). To download the guiidelines and application info, click the button below.


WDMS honors physicians dedicated to most vulnerable

Two physicians have been recognized by the Worcester District Medical Society for professional excellence including their dedication to the region's most vulnerable citizens.

  • Erik. J. Garcia, MD (right in photo), received the 28th Annual Dr. A. Jane Fitzpatrick Community Service Award. Dr. Garcia is medical director of Community Healthlink's Homeless Outreach and Advocacy Program and assistant professor at UMass. "Erik lives by a professional philosophy to embrace patients where they are, to focus on risk reduction, and not to contribute to the stigma they often experience," colleagues wrote.
  • Daniel H. Lasser, MD, MPH (left in photo), received the WDMS Career Achivement Award for his 20-year leadership of the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, UMass, and his dedication to primary care and population health, especially among marginalized patients. "Without Dr. Lasser's leadership neither the Medical School nor UMass Memorial Health Care would be so strongly rewgarded nationally and internationally for primary care excellence," colleagues wrote.

Twenty medical students from in and around Worcester received scholarships.  

News and announcements

Donate: Help our Foundation get health care to vulnerable local communities

Please consider supporting the MMS and Alliance Charitable Foundation as you consider your giving strategy for this upcoming holiday season and for 2019. When you donate to the Foundation, you help us address major gaps in care and services across the Commonwealth — so that even the most vulnerable patients in our communities can get access to the health care they need and deserve.Click below for more information on the Foundation. You can also help us by liking our Facebook page.


Physicians Insurance: The PIAM rebrand 

Insurance_newlogo(2).png Physicians Insurance — a new name for a familiar service. Physicians Insurance Agency of Massachusetts (PIAM) is rebranding as it embarks on its 26th year serving the health care providers of the region. PIAM, a subsidiary of the MMS, is now known as Physicians Insurance. Click the button below for the new website; the URL remains The new brand clarifies the organization’s exclusive focus on health care business and aligns with the goal of improving client choice in an expanding insurance marketplace. Physicians Insurance remains committed to providing each of our clients and MMS members the high caliber service you have always expected and known.


Renew your membership

Give yourself the gift of MMS Membership

Thank you to all our members who have renewed. Do you still need to renew? Give yourself a gift by renewing your membership today with the MMS for 2019. It takes just 4 minutes. Your membership supports MMS advocacy and CME, so it also serves as a gift to your professional and patient community. Go to


Reminders: Stuff you should click on

Give a colleague the gift of an award nomination


This holiday season, help the MMS honor outstanding physicians. Upcoming deadlines for nominations:

  • Grant V. Rodkey, MD Award for Outstanding Contributions to Medical Education (Dec 3)
  • Henry Ingersoll Bowditch Award for Excellence in Public Health (Dec 3)
  • Senior Volunteer Physician of the Year Award (Dec 10)
  • Award for Excellence in Medical Service (Dec 17)
  • Distinguished Service to the Massachusetts Medical Society (Dec 17)
  • MMS Lifetime Achievement Award (Dec 17)


Med-tech forum: Devices for seniors (Dec 3)

This upcoming forum explores med-tech opportunities and approaches relating to medical and public health challenges. Technologies and Approaches for Monitoring and Improving Health and Aging in Place explores the growing marketplace for medical devices supporting seniors' at-home care. This session will be held in Weston. The event is provided by MDG (Medical Development Group) Boston; the MMS is a premium sponsor.


BML Garland video: How to bring down health care costs

Did you miss the 43rd Annual Garland Lecture? The BML is pleased to make accessible a video recording of Why is US Healthcare Spending so High, and What Can We Do About It? by Dr Ashish Jha, MD, MPH. Americans spend nearly twice as much on health care as any other industrialized nation. In this year’s Garland Lecture, Dr. Jha presented new data on health system spending and performance across high income countries.

Could you use affordable practice management support?

MMS offers Practice Management Consulting services at significantly reduced rates for members. You can get reliable, value-driven help to increase your practice revenue, improve workflow, and/or otherwise transform your practice. Call our Physician Practice Resource Center on (781) 434 7702 or email — or contact David Wasserman at


Educational programs and events

Live event

Save the Date
Evolving Models for Sustainable Medical Practice
Saturday, February 2, 2019

More live CME

Featured online CME

Is There a Doctor on Board? Medical Emergencies on Commercial Flights
Medical Mistakes: Learning to Steer Clear of the Common Ones
Electronic Health Records – Understanding the Payment Landscape – Module 1

More online CME

Quote of the week

“Seeing patients is gratifying, but it’s on a different scale. As an entrepreneur, I’m potentially helping millions of patients.”  

—Ailis Tweed-Kent, MD, chief executive of Cocoon Biotech Inc., which she founded in 2013 as a first-year resident at MGH, the year after she graduated from HMS (Boston Globe).

Tweet of the week


ACLU Massachusetts
Because the rights you save may be your own.

What’s new in health care

Check out the most clicked-on stories from this week's MMS Media Watch. Sign up for daily Massachusetts media roundups by email. Some publications are fully accessible only to their subscribers.

US attorney issues warning to physicians over opioid prescriptions (Boston Globe)

Dr. Alain A. Chaoui, president of the Massachusetts Medical Society, noted in a statement that opioid prescriptions have already declined 35 percent over the past 3 1/2 years, and there was "an even higher reduction in first-time opioid prescriptions." "We stand behind physicians providing evidence-based care to the sickest, most vulnerable patients," Chaoui said. "We remain dedicated to promoting best opioid prescribing practices, and we urge all concerned parties to join us in expanding addiction treatment and fentanyl-driven overdose prevention." 

Judge's ruling allows inmate to receive methadone (State House News Service)

In a brief filed in the case, the Massachusetts Medical Society, which represents doctors, supported a preliminary injunction. Society attorneys asserted that researchers have found that treatment programs must be individually tailored to be effective, and said a one-size-fits-all forced withdrawal program "will result in needless episodes of relapse, overdose and – yes – death." A law signed in August by Gov. Charlie Baker will bring medication-assisted treatment to new institutions around the state, introducing it to Department of Correction prisoners, offering it to lower-level offenders in five counties, and mandating that emergency rooms and involuntary commitment facilities can provide it. Medication-assisted treatment can include methadone, which helps stave off the effects of withdrawal, and Vivitrol, which helps prevent relapse.

To patients' surprise, a visit to urgent care brings steep hospital bill (Boston Globe)

After a routine checkup with a primary care doctor in Revere, one patient was charged an extra $372 "hospital'' fee, according to one complaint. The practice is owned by Massachusetts General Hospital, six miles away. "I never set foot in the hospital,'' the patient wrote. Another patient treated at the Patriot Place urgent care center in Foxborough complained about being charged far more than the $50 listed on the insurance card as the payment for urgent care visits. That is because the center's owner, Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, billed the patient for an outpatient hospital visit, the complaint said. "This is very misleading to consumers,'' the patient wrote.

Dana-Farber's plan for Gillette facility worries small hospital nearby (Boston Business Journal)

While the project didn't require state approval, Dana-Farber has formally sought permission to build a 140,000-square-foot satellite facility in the Life Time Center in Chestnut Hill, a project slated to cost around $175 million. Casey said the uneven reporting requirements mean it's unclear whether Dana-Farber expects to draw patients away from his cancer center to fill its beds, or shift patients currently at the Boston institution back out to the suburbs. Sturdy's cancer program sees approximately 7,400 visits a year, largely from the 10 surrounding communities, and the program generated $16 million in revenue for the hospital in fiscal 2017, 8.3 percent of its total net revenue. Casey appeared at a Sept. 20 hearing on the Chestnut Hill facility to testify about his concerns on the Gillette project.  

Massachusetts doctors going the startup route (Boston Globe)

Plenty of CEOs at life sciences companies began their careers as doctors, but most practiced medicine for years before landing their jobs. More and more, however, executives in Massachusetts' red-hot biotech cluster are taking a different route. After spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on elite medical schools, they decide they don't want to wear a white coat — at least not most of the time. They believe they can do more to improve health care by being entrepreneurs

Main health center in Roxbury beset by turnover and turmoil (WBUR)

Whittier Street's human resources director says Andalcio and other physicians were not expected to treat HIV-positive patients, just to refer them to other medical personnel at the clinic trained to treat them. Andalcio says that's not true. He adds that if an HIV-positive patient was put on his schedule, he felt legally obligated to take care of that patient. Three employees who worked with Andalcio confirm he was directed to provide treatment to HIV-positive patients. Andalcio and 15 other current and former health care providers who spoke to WBUR describe Whittier Street, the main health center in the predominantly black and Latino Boston neighborhood of Roxbury, as beset by worsening turmoil in recent months — copious firings, financial trouble, personal conflict.

Share on Facebook

Copyright © 2019. Massachusetts Medical Society, 860 Winter Street, Waltham Woods Corporate Center, Waltham, MA 02451-1411

(781) 893-4610 | (781) 893-3800 | Member Information Hotline: (800) 322-2303 x7311