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Baker declares state of emergency, statewide travel ban

Boston Globe, January 26, 2015
FRAMINGHAM - With a massive blizzard bearing down on the state, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker on Monday declared a state of emergency and issued a ban, effective at midnight, on non-essential motor vehicle travel. "We are anticipating an historic top 5 snowstorm," he said at a news conference at the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency bunker in Framingham. "Whiteout conditions and treacherous roads will make driving anywhere extremely dangerous starting around midnight tonight and extending through most of Tuesday... I can’t stress this part enough. Please stay off the roads." Read more »

Health insurers object to paying Blue Cross

Boston Globe, January 25, 2015
A controversy has erupted in Massachusetts over an obscure provision of the federal Affordable Care Act that small health insurers say will force them to write fat checks to support the state’s dominant insurer. The law requires states to redistribute income among health insurers, so those whose members tend to be healthy will pay into a state-run pool, while insurers saddled with a high proportion of expensive, sick patients receive payment from the pool. The payments will be made for the first time this summer, based on 2014 data. Read more »

Transgender adolescents more likely to be depressed

Edge Media Network, January 23, 2015
WA new study based on data from the Sidney Borum Jr. Health Center shows what a handful of local and regional studies on transgender youth have long suggested: Transgender youth have disparately negative mental health outcomes compared to non-transgender youth. Read more »

Baker staunch in opposition to legalizing marijuana

Boston Globe, January 23, 2015
With marijuana legalization advocates considering a ballot measure campaign in Massachusetts in 2016, Governor Charlie Baker said Thursday that he is "going to always be opposed to legalizing" recreational use of the drug. Baker, though, did express some interest in tracking experiments with legalization in other parts of the country. Read more »

Could group care be the new model for pregnancy? (references programs at health centers)

Boston Globe, January 23, 2015
JUST ABOUT a year ago, women around Boston were mourning the loss of Isis Parenting, a private chain of maternity and parenting centers, catering to middle- and upper-middle-class women, that suddenly went bankrupt. Some scoffed — it’s hard to drum up pity for a business that also sold $700 strollers - but Isis graduates understood what was disappearing. When it comes to having babies, there's untold value in sharing the experience with a group. Read more »

Gov. Baker names 2 top state health care officials

WBUR's CommonHealth, January 22, 2015
BOSTON - Gov. Charlie Baker has tapped two top health care officials. Baker announced Thursday that Louis Gutierrez will serve as executive director of the Massachusetts Health Connector, which oversees the state's health insurance marketplace and website. Read more »

Walsh Announces Three Appointments

MYSouthEnd.com, January 22, 2015
Mayor Martin J. Walsh announced several appointments over the past few weeks. Rosanne Foley, Executive Director of the Boston Landmarks Commission. A longtime resident of Dorchester, Foley will manage the historic preservation program for the City of Boston, including the Boston Landmarks Commission and nine Historic Districts Commissions. Her position is in the Environment, Energy, and Open Space Cabinet, under the guidance of Chief Austin Blackmon. Read more »

Police, civic leaders discuss race relations with residents in Roxbury

Boston Globe, January 22, 2015
Police and civic leaders gathered Wednesday night at a public forum in Roxbury to try to bridge the gulf they acknowledged exists between officers and the citizens they are sworn to protect, calling for conversation, understanding, and peaceful demonstration. Read more »

Why ACA Matters to African Americans

SCVNews.com Opinion Editorial, January 22, 2015
When Astrid Muhammad heard her phone ring this past Friday, the last thing she expected was a call from the White House inviting her to attend this year's State of the Union as a guest of the first lady. Read more »

Mass. posts strongest year for job growth since 2000

Boston Globe, January 22, 2015
Massachusetts added 60,900 jobs in 2014, pushing the unemployment rate down to 5.5 percent and posting the strongest year for job growth since 2000. Read more »

If economy is humming, why does Mass. show a deficit?

Boston Globe, January 22, 2015
Massachusetts unemployment is down. State tax revenue is growing. Cranes dot the metro Boston skyline. So why does a state with an economy humming along face an urgent budget gap pegged at $765 million? Wouldn’t good economic times insulate the government from cuts now seen as imminent? Read more »

Mass. must be creative in helping poor residents with civil cases

Boston Globe Editorial, January 22, 2015
At least in civil cases, Massachusetts may never be able to provide enough full-fledged lawyers to help people who lack the means to pay for representation. In criminal matters, the state has a constitutional obligation to make sure indigent defendants have lawyers. But on a host of civil matters — from divorces and custody cases to foreclosures and evictions - low-income people come into contact with the legal system without the assistance they need to navigate it properly. Read more »

Can Maura Healey work with the business community?

Boston Globe, January 22, 2015
Here she comes: Maura Healey, our ever-so-affable attorney general, who campaigned as the "people's lawyer." But will her consumer focus come at the expense of business? Healey, who will be sworn in Wednesday, tells me she is not going to be that kind of AG. She will be tough but always fair. Hey, she is practically one of us, having spent seven years at white-shoe law firm WilmerHale representing business clients such as Analog Devices and Biogen Idec. Read more »

State, insurers boost health insurance signup efforts

Worcester Business Journal, January 21, 2015
As the Jan. 23 deadline to enroll in health insurance plans through the Massachusetts Health Connector nears, the state and local insurers are boosting efforts to reach people in need of coverage. Read more »

Kennedy center launches Framingham optometry practice

Worcester Business Journal, January 21, 2015
Vision care services are now available at the Edward M. Kennedy Community Health Center (Kennedy CHC) on Union Street in downtown Framingham, the health center announced Tuesday. Read more »

Baker cites $765 million budget shortfall

Boston Globe, January 20, 2015
Before Deval Patrick departed earlier this month, he gave Charlie Baker, his gubernatorial successor, traditional gifts, including a pewter key, a gavel, and a 19th-century Bible. He left a Massachusetts economy that is, by many measures, humming along. But Patrick also left Baker something more pernicious: a midyear budget gap the new governor pegged Tuesday at $765 million. Read more »

Flu season's in full swing

Lowell Sun, January 17, 2015
LOWELL - If your New Year's resolution is to stay healthy, you might want to keep washing your hands. The flu continues to spread across Greater Lowell and the state, even though the number of cases has slightly declined statewide as of last week. Local doctors are seeing more patients who come in with telltale signs of flu, such as fevers above 100 degrees as well as coughs. Read more »

City opens upgraded homeless shelter on Southampton Street

Boston Globe, January 16, 2015
For the past three months, Kenneth Evans contorted his lanky body as well as he could to sleep on a narrow, aluminum-framed cot beneath bright lights in a sprawling gym packed with more then 200 other homeless men. This week, for the first time since he and others were hurriedly evacuated from their shelter on Long Island in early October and crowded into the South End Fitness Center, Evans got a decent night's sleep. Read more »

Strict shelter rules for homeless families draw critics

Boston Globe, January 15, 2015
A mother and her year-old son spent their nights shuttling between a hospital emergency room and South Station after a friend kicked them out. Another woman, eight months pregnant, huddled overnight on a Quincy beach with her 3-year-old. Eventually, both families received spots in the state's emergency shelter system, but only after proving they had stayed somewhere that posed a health or safety risk, such as a car or an unheated basement. Read more »

Manet Community Health Center absorbs practices, patients from Quincy Medical Center

Boston Business Journal, January 14, 2015
Manet Community Health Center has come to the rescue of the U.S. Military Veterans Outpatient Clinic, providing a space to the group after the organization was kicked out of a closing Quincy Medical Center. Read more »

Why Mass. has a large budget gap - and what could be done about it

WBUR, January 14, 2015
BOSTON - Massachusetts is currently wrestling with a mid-fiscal year budget shortfall estimated to be somewhere between $500 million and $1 billion. To help us understand how we got here and what can be done, I spoke with Andrew Bagley, director of research at the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation (MTF), a nonpartisan watchdog group. Below, he helps us navigate six key questions surrounding the budget gap. Read more »

VA data show disparities in veteran benefits spending

WBUR, January 13, 2015
If you're a veteran and rely on benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, where you live may have an effect on whether you receive the benefits you've earned. NPR, together with member stations WBUR, Lakeshore Public Radio and KUOW, looked at data from 3,000 counties nationwide, and found there's a huge variation in coverage from state to state — and even within a state — on how much the VA spends per veteran. Read more »

Boston shelter expected to open with 100 beds

WBUR, January 13, 2015
BOSTON - As Boston officials rush to create shelter space for some of the 700 homeless people who were displaced when the only bridge to Long Island was closed, 100 new beds are scheduled to become available Tuesday. Painters, pipefitters, welders, carpenters and many more union workers have been hard at it for about two weeks now, transforming the disused city transportation building at 112 Southampton St. into what Mayor Marty Walsh promised would be a "state-of-the-art" homeless shelter. Read more »

Some 'safety net' health clinics see drop in uninsured visits under Obamacare

US News & World Report, January 13, 2015
MONDAY, Jan. 12, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- The expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act is reducing the number of uninsured patient visits to community health centers, new research suggests. Community health centers provide primary-care services to low-income populations. Under federal funding rules, they cannot deny services based on a person's ability to pay and are viewed as "safety net" clinics. Read more »

Mass. doctor to return to Liberia after recovering from Ebola (features Family Health Center of Worcester physician)

Boston Globe, January 12, 2015
Dr. Richard A. Sacra, the Massachusetts doctor who contracted Ebola while working at a hospital in Liberia, is set to return to the West African nation after recovering from the potentially deadly virus. Sacra, who plans to head to Liberia on Thursday, will speak publicly about his plans Monday morning. He has long said he planned to go back to the country he describes as a second home, after being taken from Africa to the Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha when he contracted the virus. Read more »

Boston unveils new shelter to house homeless

Boston Globe, January 11, 2015
Three weeks ago, asbestos tiles covered the floors and many of the windows were cracked or drafty. Grimy paint peeled off plaster walls also filled with asbestos, and an array of bulky tools littered the old workshop where for decades city workers made signs, meters, and traffic lights. Since then, in a feat of unparalleled speed for any previous city building, the Boston Transportation Department's old sign shop has been transformed into the city’s new shelter for the homeless - with $2 million worth of new floors, walls, plumbing, lighting, fire alarms, sheetrock, paint, electrical and heating systems, and much more. Read more »

Baker is bracing to face a budgetary baptism of fire

Boston Globe, January 8, 2015
Man, meet moment. Charlie Baker made his name on Beacon Hill in the 1990s as a budget whiz. He pulled Harvard Pilgrim Health Care back from the brink of financial catastrophe. And he won voters’ confidence in November with an upbeat bipartisan message. Read more »

Transgender youth at high risk for negative mental health outcomes (features Fenway CHC)

Pride Source, January 8, 2015
A recent study from The Fenway Institute has suggested that primary care clinicians routinely screen transgender youth for mental health concerns. With recent high-profile suicides of transgender teens, like Leelah Alcorn, the timely study serves as a further wake up call to medical professionals. Read more »

A rush to get homeless in from cold

Boston Globe, January 7, 2015
With temperatures expected to plummet below zero this week, city officials and homeless advocates are racing to find more space to house the surge of people sleeping on the streets since the city's largest shelter on Long Island closed last fall. They also urged residents to alert authorities if they see anyone sleeping outside who looks to be at risk of hypothermia. Read more »

Patient safety must be part of Mass. health care agenda

Boston Globe opinion editorial, January 7, 2015
Massachusetts has established an ambitious agenda to contain cost and improve the quality of health care across the state through transparency, efficiency and innovation. But what is the value of a more efficient health care delivery system if patients are at significant risk of being harmed by mistakes made in their health care? Read more »

Springfield health center tackles no-show rate

New England Public Radio, January 7, 2015
A community health center in Springfield is launching a program to bring down its no-show rate. About a third of the time, patients of the Caring Health Center don’t show up to scheduled appointments. Program coordinator Sabina Dhakal says some reasons are economic — they can’t get time off work — or logistical — they don’t have child care. Read more »

Changes in health care offer opportunities (features Bowdoin St HC)

Boston Globe, January 4, 2015
The health care industry will remain a reliable engine for job growth in coming years, but the pace is expected to slow as government and insurers seek to control costs and rein in reimbursement levels. Read more »

Amherst still hoping to see Hilltown health set up satellite at Bangs Community Center

The Republican, January 1, 2015
AMHERST - The plan to see the Hilltown Community Health Centers open a satellite office at the Bangs Community Center is very much alive and the town is still hoping to sign a lease and have it open sometime in 2015. Read more »

Can we rewrite the DNA of the healthcare system?

TedMed, January 1, 2015
Rebecca Onie, co-founder of Health Leads, talks about her organization's efforts to link social services efforts to healthcare, helping to ensure patients have the basic resources to heal. Read more »