Massachusetts Medical Society: Massachusetts Medical Society announces policies on telehealth access, disparities in maternal and infant health, housing inequity

Massachusetts Medical Society announces policies on telehealth access, disparities in maternal and infant health, housing inequity

WALTHAM – Policies that aim to increase access to telemedicine via expansion of broadband internet access to underserved populations, combating racial disparities in maternal and infant health outcomes, and addressing housing inequities during public health emergencies were among those adopted by the physician-members of the Massachusetts Medical Society.

Physicians and medical students from across the state attended the organization’s Interim Meeting on December 5 and considered resolutions proposed by members to the House of Delegates, the Medical Society’s governing body. Resolutions that were accepted by the House of Delegates are now organizational policies that will steer the Medical Society’s advocacy efforts at the state and federal level. (Find a complete recap of final House votes here.)

Internet access is essential in population health

The Massachusetts Medical Society will encourage health care systems, and potentially other parties, to 1) assess their community’s level of access to internet-capable devices and internet connectivity as essential components of population health care systems planning to mitigate disparities and 2) support the right to maintain that access as a municipally-owned public utility. Further, the Medical Society will advocate for affordable broadband internet access as a public utility for lower-income, historically marginalized, senior, and rural citizens and in underserved Massachusetts communities.

Disparities in maternal and infant health outcomes

The Massachusetts Medical Society affirms that racial and ethnic disparities in maternal mortality, severe maternal morbidity, and infant mortality are inextricably connected to racism. The Medical Society will advocate for legislative and regulatory policies that improve maternal and infant health outcomes and promote health equity by eliminating racial and ethnic disparities in maternal and infant health outcomes for all birthing individuals and families of color.

Pandemic has exacerbated housing inequities

The public health effects of the pandemic have been numerous and devastating, and the Massachusetts Medical Society has adopted organizational policy that intends to support those who experience housing insecurity during public health emergencies. The Medical Society will advocate for streamlined, timely, easily accessible, and equitable rental assistance, especially around emergency rental assistance during public health emergencies. Additional advocacy efforts will push for state payment of rents and utilities of those unable to pay during public health emergencies. The organization has committed to working with community stakeholders and advocating for the development of innovative alternative uses of public and private spaces and facilities during public health emergencies to accommodate those in need of shelter and adequate housing to prevent the spread of disease.

The Massachusetts Medical Society (MMS) is the statewide professional association for physicians and medical students, supporting 25,000 members. We are dedicated to educating and advocating for the physicians of Massachusetts and patients locally and nationally. A leadership voice in health care, the MMS contributes physician and patient perspectives to influence health-related legislation at the state and federal levels, works in support of public health, provides expert advice on physician practice management, and addresses issues of physician well-being. Under the auspices of the NEJM Group, the MMS extends our mission globally by advancing medical knowledge from research to patient care through the New England Journal of Medicine and the NEJM Journal Watch family of specialty publications, and through our education products for health care professionals.

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