MA gov. signs pharma gift reporting law

Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick (D) has signed legislation that, in addition to promoting electronic medical records and boosting primary care training, imposes one of the country's toughest limits on gifts to clinicians. The new measure, which not too surprisingly drew strong opposition from the pharmaceutical companies, bans certain types of gifts (such as sports tickets and free travel) while requiring pharmaceutical companies and medical devicemakers to publicly disclose any gifts worth over $50. As controversial as the gift restrictions and reporting were, they actually weren't tough enough for some critics, who had hoped to see drugmaker and devicemaker gifts banned entirely.

In addition to banning some gifts to clinicians, the new law directs the University of Massachusetts Medical School to grow its class size to allow for training of primary care doctors, as well as helping some PCPs repay med school loans. What's more, it allocates $25 million to help award grants to doctors and hospitals who want to boost their use of health IT, particularly electronic medical records. On top of all of this, the law gives the state greater power over health plan rates than regulators have had in more than a decade, observers say. Despite the importance of these changes, the drug gift ban has gotten by far the most attention, according to Massachusetts pols. This is almost certainly because drugmakers, with their deep pockets, have stirred the pot vigorously on this issue, hoping not to see such a law enacted in other states.

To learn more about the new law:
- read this article from The Boston Globe

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