November 10, 2011
Upcoming Community Meetings
On Monday November 28th I’ll be at the Hyde Park Branch Library from 6:30 - 7:30 PM to talk with you about what is happening in Congress and here in our community. The Hyde Park Branch Library is located at 35 Harvard Avenue in Hyde Park and the community meeting will take place in the Library’s Lecture Hall. I hope to see you there.
If you can’t make it on the 28th, we have telephone community meetings scheduled for Thursday, November 17th from 7:00 - 8:00 PM and Wednesday November 30th from 7:15 - 8:15 PM. If you’d like to participate, just dial 1-877-229-8493 and use pin 13034 at the scheduled time to join the call. If you’d like to ask me a question, just press *3 after joining the meeting.
Massachusetts Hospital Association
Health care significantly impacts my district, through patient care, research, and the many thousands of people employed in providing health services. I met recently with CEOs and representatives from a number of local hospitals, as well as the leadership of the Massachusetts Hospital Association (MHA). We discussed potential Medicare and Medicaid cuts that could be included in the Super Committee’s plan, or could come as a result of sequestration if Super Committee members cannot reach agreement.
All of the hospitals represented were extremely concerned about how potential cuts would impact their ability to provide services as well as the impact cuts would have on the health care workforce. A number of hospitals have already been forced to lay people off as a result of recent budget cuts.
We also talked about a number of other issues, including possible reductions in Graduate Medical Education and Indirect Medical Education. A decline in the capacity of hospitals to train the doctors of the future would have a disastrous impact on our country’s health. “Universal access” to health care will be meaningless if there are not enough physicians to treat patients.
Cambridge Health Alliance
I also met with Allison Bayer, the acting CEO of the Cambridge Health Alliance (CHA). We discussed the future of the CHA’s affiliated hospitals. Cambridge Hospital, like Boston Medical Center, is exceptional in that it has long been recognized as a DISH, a “disproportionate share” or “safety net” hospital.” Many of its patients are indigent and many have been, in the past, uninsured. Federal funds were properly granted to compensate CHA for treating patients who could not pay, and they provided crucial care, including psychiatric services, to extremely needy and vulnerable persons.
Both Cambridge and BMC are also teaching hospitals, affiliated with Harvard Medical School and Boston University Medical School respectively. Interns and residents spend time at the hospitals, learning about the challenges of treating persons who may be homeless and malnourished as well as sick or injured. As a result of health care reform, the ranks of the uninsured will diminish and the old definition of DISH hospitals will necessarily change. CHA recognizes this and I have been working with them to transition to new sources of funding.
I met today with the Chinatown Coalition, a group of nonprofit associations serving the Chinatown community. Members meet monthly to talk about issues impacting the work that they do and the neighborhoods they serve. I talked with Coalition members and local residents about a wide range of issues, from immigration reform and the DREAM Act to the federal deficit and job creation. I appreciated the chance to meet with the group, learn more about the issues they are most concerned with and talk with them about the work that they do.
Somerville Chamber of Commerce
On Wednesday I joined members of the Somerville business community at the Somerville Chamber of Commerce’s annual dinner. This is a great opportunity to spend some time with local business leaders, particularly the many small businesses that call Somerville home. It was a chance to learn more about the challenges they are facing during this difficult economy and get a better sense of how they are faring. I talked with many attendees about issues such as hiring outlooks, unemployment, tax reform and the prospects of a balanced deficit reduction plan in Washington.
What’s Up Next Week
Next votes are scheduled for Monday November 14th. The Continuing Resolution to fund the federal government expires on the 18th and Congress is expected to take up legislation related to that. And of course, the deadline for the Super Committee to release its plan is Wednesday November 23rd, less than two weeks away.