Two State Budget Provisions Improve the Physician Practice Environment

We’re pleased to report that the FY 2014 state budget passed by the Legislature yesterday contains two provisions that will improve the physician practice environment in Massachusetts.

The first provision narrows the conditions under which physicians would be required to use the state’s Prescription Monitoring Program. It states that physicians must reference the program when prescribing for the first time a narcotic that is contained in Schedule II or III.

This is in contrast to pending state regulations, which would have forced physicians to use the monitoring program for every new patient, regardless of the purpose of the visit or consultation. Through numerous calls to action, emails and letters, we argued that the pending regulations would have imposed significant administrative burdens, with very little benefit to public safety or clinical care.

In another budget section, the Legislature agreed that payments to patients made under the new Disclosure Apology & Offer program should not be part of a physician’s disciplinary record or reported to the Board of Registration in Medicine, absent a determination that the physician had rendered substandard care.

We had argued that without such a provision, physicians would be reluctant to participate in the new program, which seeks to fairly and promptly compensate injured patients without litigation.

The budget is now on Gov. Patrick’s desk. He has 10 days to sign the bill, or veto any section he doesn’t like. MMS President Ronald W. Dunlap, MD, wrote Gov. Patrick and urged him to approve the two sections outlined above.

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