March 8, 2005


Part III: Health Care, Access & Choice

"We support efforts to expand and sustain Mass Health as a source of comprehensive health care coverage for low income individuals and families. We oppose efforts to cap or periodically close enrollment in Mass Health to otherwise eligible residents, and we oppose short-sighted efforts to reduce program spending by eliminating or unduly constraining coverage of such essential benefits as mental health care, substance abuse treatment, prescription drug coverage, prophylactic and restorative dental care, and vision or hearing services."

[Rationale: There is longstanding research that poor access to primary health coverage results in more extensive and more expensive health care needs at a later date. Inadequate access to substance abuse treatment, mental health care, and prescription drug coverage (especially for anti-psychotic medications) are predictors of incarceration, homelessness, and more extensive health issues. Lack of preventive and restorative dental care compromises nutrition and general health, as well as the ability to obtain an sustain employment. (One homeless person I worked with labeled poor teeth as the "yellow arm band" of poverty, referencing the Nazi’s practice of requiring Jews to visibly identify themselves.) Clearly, lack of glasses or hearing aids undermines efforts to maintain gainful employment.]

"We support the reinstatement of an aggressive campaign to discourage smoking, and endorse efforts to make treatment available and accessible to persons seeking to quit smoking."

[Rationale: As funding for anti-smoking efforts has decreased, more young people have become nicotine addicts; in the absence of effective prevention, we are setting the stage for huge public health costs and personal suffering.]

"Recognizing the broad-based and long-term debilitating effects of substance abuse, we support the implementation of aggressive policies to discourage and prevent underage and abusive drinking and drug use, and we support policies and funding decisions which will make substance abuse treatment available to alcoholics and drug addicts as soon as they are willing and able to participate in such treatment."

[Rationale: Alcohol and drug abuse are rampant in our communities, threatening the wellbeing of students in our schools, and the ability of adults to hold jobs, support families, and maintain housing. Substance abuse is a frequent concomitant of criminal behavior and homelessness, and a cause of poor job performance and workplace accidents, and is, therefore, a drain on the Commonwealth’s public and private resources, as well as a health scourge. Despite the heavy cost of substance abuse, treatment is unevenly available, and more limited than ever in the aftermath of State Budget decisions to close treatment programs and limit Mass Health and Department of Public Health coverage of services. Preventing and addressing substance abuse is good public health policy, good public safety policy, and cost effective, and, therefore, should be part of the Platform.]


Thank you for your consideration of my suggestions.




Fred Berman 25 Cherry St. Somerville, MA 02144

(W) 617-349-6209 (H) 617-776-0503 email: