Happening today:

8 a.m. | Transportation Secretary Gina Fiandaca commutes to work via the East Boston Ferry to raise awareness about other travel options during the Sumner Tunnel closure. Lewis Mall Wharf, 65 Lewis St., East Boston

9:30 a.m. | The Massachusetts Food Policy Council holds a virtual public meeting

10 a.m. | Boston Mayor Michelle Wu helps paint the basketball court at Fenelon Park with Celtics player Jaylen Brown and the Parks and Recreation Department. | 20 Fenelon St., Dorchester

10:30 a.m. | U.S. Rep. Richard Neal holds an indoor press conference due to "imminent weather" to announce federal funding for Wahconah Park. | Pittsfield City Hall, 70 Allen St., Pittsfield

12:50 p.m. | Meals for kids gets a plug from U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern and Project Bread CEO Erin McAleer during a Summer Food Rocks Tour. | Hillside Park, Conway Street, Greenfield

3:15 p.m. | U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren discusses the Inflation Reduction Act's impact on lowering prescription drug costs and her work to make hearing aids available over the counter. | Ralph J. Froio Senior Center, 330 North St., Pittsfield

When it comes to health care in Massachusetts, “the system is broken,” says Arlington Sen. Cindy Friedman — pointing to soaring costs, plummeting health outcomes, glaring inequities and a dearth of accessible services.

The Senate Chairwoman for the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Health Care Financing painted a bleak picture of a system in turmoil as privatization has crept in. 

The growth of retail health clinics and urgent care centers that provide alternative, convenient access to health care beyond the traditional hours of doctor’s offices, community health centers and hospitals has been “striking” in Massachusetts, a state Health Policy Commission report found. 

The number of retail clinics nearly tripled from 20 clinics in 2010 to 59 in 2018, where it has remained steady since. The number of urgent care centers has grown even more dramatically — accelerating eightfold from 18 in 2010 to 145 by the end of 2017. As of 2021, there were 173.

A decade ago, most urgent care centers were affiliated with hospitals, but by 2018, about 61 percent were part of non-hospital-based chains such as American Family Care — with 21 centers — or Carewell Urgent Care — with 16 centers.

Friedman said the explosion of for-profit health care providers proves its profitability, but following a recent report on declining maternal health rates, she says it’s time to stop the bleeding.

Steve Walsh of the Massachusetts Health & Hospital Association called the growing trend to health care privatization “a huge issue.” 

“They’re generally cherry-picking the commercial insured, not treating poor people and they’re leaving hospitals more vulnerable,” Walsh told MASSterList in a recent interview. “What you’re going to end up with is a two-tiered health care system.”

Friedman argues health care is already delivered via a two-tiered system in Massachusetts and predicted the divide in access and health outcomes between the haves and the have-nots would only widen if the Legislature fails to act quickly to buoy strapped hospitals and providers.

There is no Band-Aid big enough that can be delivered in this session alone, but Friedman said her committee is focused on immediate fixes that will start to reduce the cost of care to Bay Staters and increase access as well as slash red tape for providers. Ultimately she says she’d like to see for-profit providers pay more into the system they’re benefiting from.

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All American: Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Roney has a meesage for you — on hotdogs

In celebration of National Hotdog Day, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney — the Republican who’s credited with launching MassHealth and laying the groundwork for Obamacare — was so inspired by his love of America’s favorite food be took to Twitter.

“Hotdog is my favorite meat,” now-Utah Sen. Romney said in a festive video posted to Twitter this week — while, of course, clad in a hotdog cap. “I love hotdogs, I love them in buns, I love them outside of buns, I love them with backed beans. I just like hotdogs. It’s the best meat there is without question.”

Romney said his hope is “there be many, many more hotdogs served in our wonderful land.” A quick glance at Romney’s latest campaign finance report proves that’s not just a marketing ploy. MASSterList found no obvious evidence of contributions from major meat suppliers or the hotdog lobby in the June 30 quarterly report. The man appears to just really love hotdogs.

As demand surges, mental health call centers hope funding keeps up 

It’s been a year now that dialing 988 connects to the nation’s new mental health hotline number, but as Massachusetts legislators slow-walk the 2024 fiscal budget, call centers are curious if funding will still support their life-saving work, reports Alvin Buyinza for MassLive.


Watchdogs invest little in COVID-19 oversight

The state’s watchdogs have spent only a fraction of $1.5 million in funding they received more than two years ago to provide fiscal oversight of billions of dollars in federal pandemic-related aid flowing into the state, reports Christian M. Wade for The Eagle Tribune. The Attorney General’s Office, comptroller, state auditor, and inspector general’s office have only spent $187,643 of the money the Legislature allocated in 2021 to fund audits, investigations and other oversight into pandemic spending.

The Eagle Tribune

Herald exclusive: Police body camera screen grabs from Boston City Councilor Kendra Lara’s crash

The Boston Herald’s Joe Dwinnell writes that Boston City Councilor Kendra Lara lied to police after crashing her car when speeding and driving illegally with her young son in the back seat. She said “No” she did not have her license with her adding: “I can bring it,” according to the audio on police body-camera footage obtained by the Herald.

The Boston Herald

If voters get final word on MCAS standing as graduation requirement, polls suggest they’ll ditch

Christian M. Wade for The Eagle Tribune reports a recent poll of Massachusetts voters found 73 percent would support scrapping the MCAS graduation requirement for Bay State high schools. The Massachusetts Teachers Association is mulling over a referendum for the 2024 elections that would end the decades-old mandate requiring 10th graders to demonstrate proficiency in math, English and science to graduate.

Salem News

Don’t look up: Storrow season is already upon us

As renters and movers gear up for one of the region’s biggest move-in dates on Sept. 1, Boston drivers are trying to avoid getting Storrow’d — or jammed up when a too-tall moving truck tries to make it under an over pass on Storrow Drive and other nearby roads along the Charles River. Universal Hub reports that on Huntington Avenue outbound at Mass. Ave.  a trucker found himself in quite a pickle yesterday.

Universal Hub

New Bedford’s Mitchell will seek sixth straight term

With a massive wind farm staging facility on the city’s waterfront serving as the symbolic backdrop, New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell took to Facebook Thursday to launch his campaign for a sixth consecutive term, arguing that he’s the best person to continue the city’s economic growth. Mitchell has been mayor of the Whaling City since 2011.

New Bedford Light

Feds say Springfield is on track with mandated reforms 

So far, so good. The U.S. Department of Justice told a federal judge that the city of Springfield is making steady progress on the police department reforms it agreed to under a 2022 consent decree issued after a lengthy federal investigation. MassLive’s Stephanie Barry reports one of the next steps will be for community input to be gathered about how a new Board of Police Commissioners should do its work.


Baker lease extension secured Camp Edwards for National Guard for rest of century 

The Massachusetts Army National Guard secured an extension of the lease that guarantees its use of Camp Edwards until 2099 — an agreement that came in the final months of the Baker administration. The extension is coming into fresh focus as the guard presses forward with its plan to build a machine-gun training range and Walker Armstrong of the Cape Cod Times reports at least one environmental group feels the process lacked transparency and public debate.

Cape Cod Times

Help really wanted: Western Mass. towns short of volunteers and staff 

Small towns in the western part of the state are struggling to fill both paid posts and volunteer positions, a trend locals say has been a long time in the making but once accelerated by the Covid-19 and the rise of incivility both in person and on social media, the Berkshire Eagle’s Jane Kaufman reports. 

The Berkshire Eagle

Weekend political talk shows

Keller@Large, with Jon Keller on CBS Boston (WBZ), 8:30 a.m. on Sunday. This week’s guest is NAACP Boston Chapter President Tanisha Sullivan who will be previewing next weekend’s national NAACP Convention and discussing the perception of Boston among African-Americans and how the convention can change it.

On the Record, WCVB-TV, 11 a.m. on Sunday. U.S. Rep. Lori Trahan is the guest this week where she’ll discuss the current chaotic atmosphere in Congress, the legislation she is backing and her thoughts on the 2024 election cycle. Ben Simmoneau and Sharman Sacchetti host. Boston Globe Columnist Mary Ann Marsh and Republican Political Analyst Rob Gray join the roundtable discussion.

@Issue, NBC10 Boston or NECN, starting at 11:30 a.m. on Sunday. Guests this week are outgoing Boston City Councilor-at-large Mike Flaherty and Tanisha Sullivan, president of the Boston NAACP Branch, where they’ll discuss city political infighting and what it took to get the NAACP convention to come to Boston. Hosts are Sue O’Connell and Jeff Saperstone.

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Erin Tiernan was a Editor and Author of MASSterList