10 a.m. | Boston Mayor Michelle Wu and other officials host a press conference on substance use disorder, mental health, and unsheltered homelessness crises centered at the intersection of Melnea Cass Boulevard and Massachusetts Avenue. | Event will be live-streamed | boston.gov | The Base, 150 Shirley St., Roxbury
10 a.m. | Economic Development Secretary Yvonne Hao and officials participate in a roundtable discussion with Black Economic Council of Massachusetts for Black Business Month. | Black Economic Council of Massachusetts, 2300 Washington St., Second Floor, Roxbury
11 a.m. | Executive Office of Health and Human Services holds a virtual public hearing on a proposed regulation outlining the payment and rate structure of doulas, who are slated to become MassHealth providers under a separate proposed regulation. The rates would take effect on or after Oct. 30. Written testimony will be accepted through 5 p.m.
1 p.m. | MassHealth holds a public hearing on multiple amendments to the MassHealth pharmacy program.
Black people in Massachusetts are more than twice as likely to die in childbirth as their White counterparts — a glaring racial disparity that the state hopes to tackle in part by making doula care more accessible.
Doula care is one of the most effective tools to improve health outcomes and reduce racial disparities among pregnant and postpartum people. Childbirth is also deadlier for Asian, Hispanic, disabled and mentally ill residents, data show.
MassHealth is on the verge of making doulas recognized providers and covering pregnancy and support care — a change that public health experts say would come by October, if approved, and an expansion of care expected to address differences in health outcomes.
State health regulators today will hold a pair of public hearings on the proposed coverage and pay rates. The state’s Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program does not cover doula care now. The proposed rule change to regulate and cover doulas as MassHealth providers is seen as a pathway toward equity in care for pregnant people regardless of race. DPH Commissioner Dr. Robbie Goldstein said the numbers show “it is really racism, not race, that is driving most of these inequities” when the data were released last month.
Doula care costs, which can carry a price tag upward of $5,000, would be slashed to $100 for most appointments and $700 for birth assistance.
Massachusetts would join a growing number of states that are now recognizing the value of doula care. Ten states and Washington, D.C. provide Medicaid coverage for doula services as of February 2023. An additional five states are in the process of implementing coverage.Send tips to Erin Tiernan Editor@MASSterList.com. For advertising and general inquiries, contact Dylan Rossiter: Publisher@MASSterList.com. Click here to post a job on the MASSterList Job Board. Follow @MASSterList on Twitter. Did someone send you this edition? Subscribe here!
Legislature seeks override of Gov. Healey’s $7.7 million veto for community action agencies.
Gov. Maura Healey vetoed funding that was slated for community action agencies. Now state lawmakers favor an override, reports NEPM. The state has 23 community action agencies that serve nearly 600,000 people with low incomes. The agencies help people with low incomes whose electricity is about to be shut off, or who need additional food or help avoiding eviction. They also help people who are without homes, who seek assistance paying medical bills or need help accessing tax credits.
Pilgrim Nuclear turns to evaporation of radioactive water
Lawmakers temporarily blocked the company charged with decommissioning Pilgrim Nuclear from dumping 1.1 million gallons of radioactive wastewater into Cape Cod Bay, but neighbors and regulators learned on Aug. 16 that the company is already releasing some of that water — not into the bay but into the air, in the form of gaseous effluent through a vent in the reactor building. The company and federal officials say the plant is releasing only a very small portion of the wastewater as part of its reactor cleanup process. An unsigned letter sent this week from an apparent whistleblower indicated the company plans larger releases through evaporation.
Police watchdogs admit potential errors, holes in disciplinary records released this week
About 24 hours after the public release of a new statewide database containing thousands of police officer disciplinary complaints, the watchdog agency in charge admitted to gaps, errors, and major omissions in the data. The Boston Globe’s Sean Cotter reports a database error left Cambridge and Everett police off of the list, even though the two departments submitted officer disciplinary records as requested. Brookline Police Department, whose former chief was fired last year over sexual harassment allegations, also said it sent information that was left out.
Merrimack Valley explosions trigger new federal gas pipeline safety regs
The Boston Globe’s Tonya Alanez reports on new rules aimed at tightening national safety standards for natural gas distribution pipelines to avoid overpressurization — the cause of the explosions that rocked the Merrimack Valley in 2018 and killed one person. The explosions were caused by overpressurized pipelines operated by Columbia Gas of Massachusetts, which pleaded guilty in federal court to reckless disregard and flagrant indifference to minimum safety standards. Senator Edward J. Markey yesterday praised this “first step” by US Department of Transportation officials.
Gov. Healey meets with Homeland Security Secretary after emergency declaration
Gov. Maura Healey planned to meet with U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas Thursday, only weeks after the governor declared a state of emergency in Massachusetts and petitioned the secretary for help with an influx of migrants. Mayorkas was in Boston for two publicly scheduled events, an awards ceremony at a U.S. Coast Guard Base near the North End and a naturalization ceremony at Faneuil Hall. After an event in Wellesley earlier in the day, Healey said she planned to meet with the secretary at the State House.
Migrants should be relocated and housed evenly, proposal says
Democratic Rep. Michael Finn, D-Springfield, wants to limit the number of asylum seekers who could be placed in emergency housing in cities and towns and require the state to provide advance notice before relocating them. Christian Wade of the Salem News reports the bill would limit the number of individuals sheltered at local hotels and motels to 1% of a community’s population, and require the state to provide local officials with at least 24 hours’ notice before migrants are placed in a temporary shelter.
Humane-er pork: New regulations roll out this week
New regulations require that most uncooked pork sold in Massachusetts — Roasts, ribs, cutlets, etc. — come from pigs that were raised in pens with enough space to freely turn around, lie down and stand up, WBUR. That effectively bans the use of gestation crates, not only by farms in Massachusetts but also by out-of-state producers selling pork meat in the state.
Don’t say ‘Gun:’ Somerset updates student rules to include weapons talk
Elementary school students in Somerset will be subject to discipline if they discuss weapons or make gun-like gestures with their hands under new rules adopted recently by the school board. According to Audrey Cooney of the Herald-News, teachers and staff had asked for the rules to be clarified to make it clear even imaginary threats of violence won’t be tolerated.
Steamship Authority to keep ‘commuter service” status, federal funds
U.S. Rep. Bill Keating is crediting work done by the Cape Cod Commission to demonstrate that the Steamship Authority’s Hyannis-to-Nantucket route is well-used by commuters with helping to lock down a federal commuter designation for the agency. Walker Armstrong of the Cape Cod Times reports the Federal Transit Authority had earlier said it would revoke the designation, which is necessary to keep up to $5 million in annual federal payments flowing.
Six months later, Northampton reparations commission gets to work
It took six months since it was formed by the City Council, but the 11-member commission established to study reparations for black residents in Northampton met for the first time after locking down $30,000 to pay staff, Alexander MacDougall of the Daily Hampshire Gazette reports. The commission is due to make recommendations next May.
Realtor, board member admits ethics violations in connection with Berkshire Mall sale
Lanesborough realtor Barbara Davis-Hassan, who also served on multiple town committees, has agreed to pay $30,000 in penalties to settle allegations she violated the state’s conflict of interest law on two separate occasions, including the $8 million sale of the Berkshire Mall. Jane Kaufman of the Eagle has the details.
Weekend political talk shows
Keller@Large, with Jon Keller on CBS Boston (WBZ), 8:30 a.m. on Sunday.
On the Record, WCVB-TV, 11 a.m. on Sunday. The guest this week is Boston Mayor Michelle Wu who will be oncentrating on her new steps to deal with the crisis on Mass and Cass.. Ed Harding and Sharman Sacchetti host. Boston Globe Columnist Mary Ann Marsh and Republican Political Analyst Virginia Buckingham join the roundtable discussion.
@Issue, NBC10 Boston or NECN, starting at 11:30 a.m. on Sunday. Hosts are Sue O’Connell and Cory Smith.