9 a.m. | Joint Committee on Veterans and Federal Affairs holds a hearing on more than 40 bills. | Room A-1 and Virtual
9 a.m. | Conference committee negotiating local road and bridge funding bill meets for the first time. | Senate Reading Room
10 a.m. | Joint Committee on Health Care Financing holds a hearing on 30 bills focused on nursing homes, senior care and MassHealth assets.| Gardner Auditorium and Virtual
11:30 a.m. | Gov. Maura Healey and other officials announce new financing options for green affordable housing. | State House Library
4:20 p.m. | DA Commissioner Dr. Robert Califf participates in a fireside chat on the second day of Mass General Brigham's World Medical Innovation Forum. | Grand Ballroom at the Westin Seaport Hotel, 425 Summer St., Boston
If the human toll of glaring health inequities disproportionately affecting communities of color in Massachusetts hasn’t been motivation enough for lawmakers tasked with balancing the scales, advocates have now added up the economic cost, too.
The price tag tallies $5.9 billion a year, according to a new report being released today by the Health Equity Compact and the Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation. A quarter of the economic cost is associated with avoidable healthcare spending and another quarter comes from lost labor productivity, researchers found.
The weight of issues like housing instability, food insecurity, environmental toxins
and poverty disproportionately affect populations of color as a result of longstanding systemic racism, the report said.
It’s an “unacceptable cost” said Compact co-founder Michael Curry — who also heads the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers — said could grow to $11.2 billion by 2050 if no action is taken. The group represents 70 leaders of color across industries.
The “staggering economic toll” is proof the state must shift from “awareness of the problem to action on solutions,” said Audrey Shelto, president and CEO of BCBS Foundation.
The Legislature’s Joint Committee on Health Care Financing is considering 182 bills this session, including “An Act to Advance Health Equity,” which is endorsed in the report.
Committee Co-Chairwoman Sen. Cindy Friedman recently told MASSterList that equity in health outcomes remains a major priority for the Legislature as Beacon Hill leaders attempt to chart a course to a more equitable future for Bay Staters regardless of race.
As a start, the report asks lawmakers to further legislation that heeds the recommendations of the Legislature’s Health Equity Taskforce which was created in 2020 to dissect the inequities brought to light amid the pandemic. The Task Force’s Blueprint for Health Equity provides detailed recommendations in six key areas — including addressing social factors in health, strengthening the local and state public health systems, and strengthening access to quality, affordable health care.
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Keller at Large
The largest teachers union in the state has thrown its weight behind abolishing the MCAS exam that has served as a way to measure proficiency for students and educators alike for decades. While the controversial standardized test has its flaws, WBZ political analyst Jon Keller says teachers still need to be held accountable.
Off the rails: Another derailment on the Green Line amid MBTA safety struggles
A day that began with rare good news for the MBTA didn’t last long. Headlines boasting a long-awaited bump in ridership that’s brought numbers the closest yet to pre-pandemic levels barely made it to midday before news of yet another derailment stole the spotlight. A Green Line trolley went off the rails near Packard’s Corner in Allston, reports The Boston Herald’s Gayla Cawley. The 30 passengers aboard were uninjured, T officials said. The MBTA is blaming the derailment on a stretch of defective track. It’s the latest in a long string of incidents that has put the troubled transit agency in the crosshairs of federal regulators amid concerns for the safety of workers and riders.
Trump in court Tuesday court in historic first appearance of former president facing federal charges
Donald Trump is no stranger to the courtroom, but he’ll make history with his Tuesday federal court appearance as the first former president to face charges felony charges. He’s accused of illegally hoarding classified documents and thwarting the Justice Department’s efforts to get them back, the Associated Press reported. An indictment unsealed Friday alleges Trump intentionally retained hundreds of classified documents that he took with him from the White House to his Florida estate, Mar-a-Lago, after leaving the White House.
Down to the wire: State quickly doled out $80 million in unspent COVID funds ahead of debt limit deal
Massachusetts last month quickly — and quietly — doled out $80 million in unspent federal COVID relief dollars that were in jeopardy of being clawed back amid the debt limit debate, reports The Boston Globe. The money went to four projects already underway, according to a document obtained by reporters. It’s unclear exactly how much was allocated to each of the four projects, but state and federal lawmakers are defining the move they said came out of necessity given the situation in Congress.
Healey to get first SJC appointment after judge’s surprise retirement announcement
Gov. Maura Healey will get to make an appointment for the next judge to serve on the state’s high court earlier than many expected after Supreme Judicial Court Justice Elspeth Cypher announced her planned retirement come January, reports Chris Lisinski for State House News Service. Cypher, who turned 64 in February, will leave after a nearly seven-year tenure to take a position at Boston College Law School.
In limbo: Hospitals struggling with overcrowding have a discharge problem, report says
As hospitals across the state struggle with overcrowding and low staffing levels, a new report finds an average of 1,200 people were stuck in hospital beds each day because workers could not find a place to discharge them, reports Jessica Bartlett for The Boston Globe. Patients in those beds accounted for 15 percent of the state’s staffed medical and surgical hospital beds — highlighting another problem for the health care industry under strain as it emerges from the pandemic, according to the report.
Women veterans get their day on Beacon Hill
After a report last year by the Massachusetts auditor’s office found the state veteran’s services office had only identified 6% of the 25,000 women veterans living in Massachusetts, lawmakers responded with bills aimed at invoking change. Those bills seeking to bolster services for women veterans will go before a legislative committee Tuesday, reports Adam Frenier for NEPM.
Venture capital boon to Mass. startups slowing down
Amid massive layoffs across the tech sector and big investment bank busts, it comes as no surprise that venture capital that’s been a boon to Boston-area startups has slowed. Businesses are getting less than two-thirds of the funding seen at the peak in investing in 2021, reports Grant Welker for The Boston Business Journal. The trend is true for cities across the board, but experts say the reversal in investing isn’t so much a cause for concern as it is a return to normal levels following an unprecedented spike.
No pride in counterprotest at Burlington middle school
A celebration of LGBTQ pride at a Burlington middle school quickly devolved into a day of” intolerance” at Burlington Middle School when students involved in an apparent counterprotest tore down rainbow decorations while chanting that their pronouns are “U.S.A,” reports Kirsten Glavin for NBC Boston. Parents in a letter to school administrators asked the district to fill a diversity position that has sat empty since last fall.
Nothing to read here: Massachusetts teachers among least-prepared to teach kids how to read
Massachusetts ranks near the bottom of the list when it comes to preparing educators to teach children to read in scientifically proven ways, a new report finds. The Bay State is 35th, reports Naomi Martin for The Boston Globe. Of the 19 college programs reviewed, just three in Massachusetts are adequately preparing educators, the report found.
RI regulators sounding alarm over wind developers with few checks and balances
Top regulators for wind energy projects in Rhode Island are raising the alarm on an industry where they say developers are seeking to renegotiate the financial terms of their projects and putting policymakers in “a veritable Hobson’s choice” between protecting the interests of ratepayers and promoting the generation of an energy alternative seen as a saving grace in the fight against climate change, reports Bruce Mohl of Commonwealth Magazine. The comments come as a developer locked in a power purchase agreement in Massachusetts is now seeking to terminate so it can rebid the project at much higher prices in a new procurement.
Methuen Council moves to avoid a repeat of exorbitant police contract
The Methuen City Council is advancing a new process for approving contracts that requires any document put before the council for approval be posted for public review for 10 days first. Will Broaddus of the Eagle-Tribune reports measure is meant to avoid a repeat of the 2017 incident in which the council approved massive raises for police superior officers only to have members later say they didn’t realize what they were voting on,
WinnDevelopment plans to buy, redevelop downtown Worcester’s Slater Building
WinnDevelopment of Boston has struck a deal to purchase Worcester’s Slater building, a downtown landmark that was once the tallest skyscraper in the city, to convert it into a mixed-use project with an unspecified number of apartments to feed a white-hot rental market.
Peace activists urge lawmakers to address climate, nuclear threats
A Nobel Peace Prize laureate from Northampton was among those who urged lawmakers to create a state commission that would study what some say are the existential threats of both nuclear weapons proliferation and climate change, James Pentland of the Daily Hampshire Gazette reports.
Doing his part: Dennis business owner launches home-ownership plan for workers
The owner of a legendary hot dog shack in Dennis has purchased a new, year-round business and plans to offer employees a 401K-style matching plan designed to help them save up a down payment for a home. As Denise Coffey of the Cape Cod Times reports, the approach is a response to the dearth of workforce housing in the region.
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