MMS Gearing Up for a Busy Fall on Beacon Hill

BY RONNA WALLACE
MMS LEGISLATIVE CONSULTANT

The MMS has been busy weighing in on a multitude of proposed legislation that may impact physicians and their patients.

One bill that has already seen two public hearings is “An Act Improving Medical Decision Making, sponsored by Rep. Chris Markey and the late Sen. Tom Kennedy. The purpose of H.107 and S.853 is to expedite the medical decision making process for patients without decisional capacity in order to ensure access to necessary care in a timely manner. These identical bills would grant family members legal authority to consent to medical treatment for patients who are unable to consent for themselves in situations where there is agreement about the need for standard treatment. The MMS presented oral and written testimony at separate hearings before the Committee on Children and Families and the Judiciary Committee. Joining the Society in support of these bills was Rebecca Weintraub Brendel, M.D., J.D., a psychiatrist at Harvard Medical School and Partners Healthcare.

At print time, H.107 and S.853 were pending and awaiting further action.

The following MMS bill filings have also had a public hearing and are awaiting further action by lawmakers:

  • H.417 “An Act Improving Students’ Access to Life Saving Treatments.” This legislation would allow students to possess and self-administer glucose testing strips and insulin. The proposed language would also address the need for others to help students with diabetes by administering injection of glucagon. Joining the MMS in support of H.417 was the American Diabetes Association.
  • H.1200 “An Act Relative to the Valuation of Professional Practices in Divorce Proceedings.” This bill would ensure that professional corporations, including physician office practices, be valued at fair market value, as defined consistently with federal statutes governing other transactions involving physician practices.
  • S.601 “An Act to Provide for the Privacy of Information Submitted by Hospital Medical Staff.”This bill would safeguard the confidentiality of hospital medical staff members’ personal and financial information disclosed pursuant to hospital conflict of interest policies.

Public hearings on other MMS bills are expected this fall. Legislation to promote physician-led health care teams; to increase the safety of bicyclists; expand consumer protections for MassHealth recipients; and to reduce administrative burdens for health care providers are all likely to have public hearings scheduled before the holiday recess in late November.

To date, the MMS has testified on approximately 40 pieces of legislation in the current session. One priority issue for the MMS and the state legislature that is expected to move this fall is opioid abuse. The MMS shares the Legislature’s concern with the growing epidemic of prescription drug abuse, and will continue to work closely through the coming months with Gov. Charlie Baker’s administration, the Executive Office of Health and Human Services Opioid Taskforce, and the Senate Opioid Taskforce, among other state and national groups.

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