Saturday, December 26, 2020

"It is up to the Legislature to once again lead where Governor Baker has failed“

"GOV. CHARLIE BAKER vetoed the Legislature’s abortion bill on Thursday, forcing lawmakers to override his veto if they want to insist on lowering from 18 to 16 the age at which a woman can obtain an abortion without the approval of a parent or judge.

Baker previously offered an amendment to the Legislature’s abortion proposal doing away with the provisions he disliked, but both branches rejected the amendment and returned the legislation to the governor as originally crafted.

After days of hemming and hawing at State House press conferences about what he intended to do with the abortion language, Baker’s office issued a statement just before 2 p.m. saying he was returning the bill unsigned, which a spokeswoman said was the equivalent of a veto."
Continue reading the article online

"More than half of Massachusetts’ communities are at high risk for COVID-19"

The Boston Globe has the following:
The state releases a map on a weekly basis that uses coronavirus case counts to show which Massachusetts communities are at high, moderate, and low risk for COVID-19 infection. The state’s latest report lists a total of 188 Massachusetts communities now considered high risk for the spread of COVID-19.

The statewide average daily rate of infection per 100,000 residents was at 63.2, slight down from 65.1 last week, and Boston’s average daily rate was at 59.1, slightly down from 61.9 last week.

Governor Charlie Baker introduced the map on Aug. 11 and it initially outlined each town’s average daily increase in cases per 100,000 people over the most recent two-week period. In November, Baker announced the state had changed its metrics for determining the level of risk for COVID-19 transmission in communities.
Continue reading the article online (subscription may be required)

From CommonWealth Magazine:

"THE STATE’S weekly COVID-19 report suggests Massachusetts has hit a plateau, as the number of communities considered high-risk for the virus held steady and cases declined slightly. Deaths, however, continued to rise.

After weeks of steady and sometimes dramatic increases, the number of high-risk, or red, communities in Massachusetts rose to 158, an increase of just one compared to last week’s report. On a percentage basis, the number of red communities in the state held steady at 53 percent."

Continue reading the article online
 
 
 

FHS Gymnastics: How do you Flip into your Christmas? (video)


"How do you Flip into your Christmas? ๐ŸŽ„๐Ÿ’™@FHSSports @BostonHeraldHS @HockomockSports @MetroWestSports @FranklinMatters"
 
Shared from Twitter:  https://t.co/VRgZvfu1E1
 
 

Franklin, MA: 1910 to 1919 (video)

Joe Landry provides this video about the history of Franklin, MA from 1910 to 1919. 
 
Direct video link: https://youtu.be/rPvh7OszN6A
 

BerkShares are an early version of #thinkfranklinfirst gift cards

The Boston Globe has the following:
"Last spring, shortly after it became clear that COVID-19 was more than just a little flu and that local shops would be down and out for more than just a little while, America got to wondering: How can we save small businesses?

Many commentators demanded quick federal relief. Some consumers went on gift card shopping sprees. And 2020 presidential candidate Andrew Yang tweeted a proposal combining the two — government-issued debit cards redeemable only at locally owned small businesses.

The Twitterati mostly condemned Yang’s idea as “stupid,” “impractical,” and “useless.” And the debit cards never came to pass; consumers got stimulus checks and small businesses got Paycheck Protection Program loans instead.

But a piece of his idea — a currency that could only be spent at local businesses — has been a fixture of life in Massachusetts’ southern Berkshires since 2006."

Continue reading the article online (subscription may be required)

The most important element of a good gathering


The most important element of a good gathering

Dear friends,
 
The single biggest mistake we make when trying to gather — whether physically or virtually — is assuming we already know its purpose. 

Even in our physically-together-normal-circumstances-gatherings, we assume the purpose is obvious. In these Corona times, as physical gatherings are fumbling into virtual ones, purpose becomes even more crucial. We now have a unique opportunity to investigate why we are gathering. Let me give you an example.

Over the past few months, millions of teachers have been scrambling to figure out how to teach their courses remotely. My mother-in-law, Nandini, is one of them.
 
She's a ceramics teacher at an all-girls school who now has to teach remotely. Without a kiln. Without clay. Without a way to squeeze a hand to show the right amount of pressure to apply when burnishing a vessel. It's hard to imagine a more physically-dependent gathering.
 
So without any of the tools she would normally have to teach, Nandini was forced to ask herself a set of questions:

  • Why do I teach this course?
  • How do I want my students to be different because of this experience?
  • What is the purpose of my class?

She realized she wanted her students to be confident problem-solvers, to be risk-takers, and to be able to create something from nothing. Ceramics was the medium but not the actual purpose
 
Nandini wanted them to keep using their hands, and to limit screen time. She wanted to keep them working in 3-D. She wanted them to be resourceful and use only materials they already had in their homes.  

My mother-in-law changes the class from ceramics to papermรขchรฉ. She gave the project a new name: "Dinnerware with Paper". And she allowed for some creative freedom: they could make anything that could be put on a table. She also promised that she would still display their work at the school, once it reopened. She told me, "We will still honor their work."  
 
One of the biggest mistakes we make when converting a physical gathering into a virtual one is assuming it will look the same, just online.

As you are thinking about hosting virtual gatherings, don't confuse your assumed activity with the gathering's purpose. Your planning should always begin by asking first: What is the purpose now? 

Here are some questions to help you get clear on your gathering's purpose:

  • What is the desired outcome? 
  • Who is this gathering for (primarily)?
  • If all goes well, how might the guests be different because of this gathering?
  • How do you want people to feel when they walk away? 
  • If your virtual gathering is replacing an in-person one, has the purpose changed? Is it the same as we originally intended, or has the need changed? 
  • What is the role of the host, and what is the role of guests?

If this was helpful for you, I invite you to share this newsletter with a friend, one whom you feel always makes your gatherings a little bit brighter. 

Warmest, 

Priya 

P.S. For a deeper dive, check out my book, The Art of Gathering


Happy Holidays from the Becca Bunch!


December 24, 2020
 
Dear friends, 

From my family to yours, I wish you a safe, healthy, and happy holiday season. None of us imagined the immense difficulties we would face in 2020, and I hope you take time to find some peace and rejuvenation this December.

As this year comes to an end, so does my first term in office! I am excited to roll up my sleeves and get back to work with all of you for the 2021-2022 legislative session. Below is a review of just some of the things I accomplished with my colleagues over the last two years, including a robust COVID-19 response, billions of dollars invested into our Commonwealth's communities, and broad-spectrum reforms in education, elections, and reproductive justice. 

As always, if you or any of your loved ones in my district have fallen on hard times during this pandemic, please do not hesitate to reach out to my office via phone (617-722-1555) or email (becca.rausch@masenate.gov). We are here to help. You can also find robust resources to help you navigate through COVID-19 on my website. 

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year. I wish you and your family strength, health, and resilience for 2021.

Yours in service,  


   Senator Becca Rausch  



Office Hours
Office Hours

Sign up for a 15-minute appointment here.    (https://www.beccarauschma.com/office-hours)

Residents from any part of the Norfolk, Bristol and Middlesex District are welcome to share their questions and opinions on state issues with me and my team via video chat or phone call. Office hours are available to discuss any matter. 



The Newsletter was shortened for publication here. To review the full set of contents, follow this link:  https://mailchi.mp/aa281bd208fc/maearlyvoting2020-13221712
 

Washington Post: "Five myths about voting machines"

From The Washington Post, an article of interest for Franklin:

President Trump is still pretending that he won last month’s election, insisting falsely that only massive fraud made it appear that President-elect Joe Biden won. Many of his claims, and the even more baroque allegations of his supporters, have focused on voting machines — part of the electoral system that most people don’t spend much time thinking about. Here are some of the biggest myths circulating about them now.

Continue reading the article online (subscription may be required)
 

Friday, December 25, 2020

Merry Christmas

I wish you all a merry Christmas. Please be safe and social (at a distance)!

Feel free to explore the archives today, there will be very limited posting of new items in order to spend time with my family.


Note: Please be safe, the Franklin COVID-19 stats have increased over the prior week. We are now at just over 6% positivity and going the wrong direction.
Details in this week's report:  https://www.mass.gov/doc/weekly-covid-19-public-health-report-december-24-2020/download


Merry Christmas - 2020
Merry Christmas - 2020


Franklin (MA) School Committee meeting recap - Dec 22. 2020

Quick Recap:
  • Donna Grady, FPS teacher and FEA president spoke about reframing the discussion on kids missing out. They are not, they are all in the same boat. (I would add: health is more important than education - without good health, you can't learn. And it would be good to recognize that this pandemic is a time to think about our overall learning processes. How do we learn? How can we learn? The specific topics and curriculum items mean less than the developing the capability to learn.)
  • excellent presentations from ECDC and the Performing Arts dept showcasing the work and learning being done in trying circumstances. (See how we can learn when we put our minds together to do so)
  • First draft of school calendar for 2020-2021 shared
  • Superintendent's goals were approved. The sharing pre-meeting had caused some kerfuffle among community members who misinterpreted what they were lacking the full context. (A solution to this would be a 'cover note/memo' to better frame the doc when shared pre-meeting next time. Not sharing the doc before hand is not an acceptable solution. Although it is an 'easy way' out, it does nothing to build the trusting relationship with the community that is very much a work in progress)
  • Re-opening status - lengthy discussion with SchComm Q&A and only a few community comments this time around. Plan to bring K-1 back in person still being developed. Finally a question on ESP's use as subs and what happens to that learning time? (it doesn't always get made up - and this has been gong on for some time, well before the pandemic) Staffing in the pandemic continues to be working a tightrope. If the numbers change (in the wrong direction) expect more remote learning days.
Photos captured during the meeting broadcast and shared via Twitter can be found in one album  https://photos.app.goo.gl/e1BAktE3feox7Ak48

----

As with most meetings in this pandemic period, I took my notes via Twitter during the meeting reporting in real-time via the virtual session.
 
The Twitter hashtag can be found online  #schcom1222

https://twitter.com/hashtag/schcom1222?src=hashtag_click

  • Getting ready for the School Committee meeting tonight, agenda doc is here: https://www.franklinps.net/sites/g/files/vyhlif4431/f/events/scagenda_12-22-20.pdf  #schcom1222
  • Meeting starts on time and the recording allows me to catch the gavel this time ( yeah!) #schcom1222 one in route to meeting (D'Angelo) other six present remotely or in person for this hybrid session
  • #schcom1222 participation over 100 at this point with a good # of teachers showing up via the names 
Citizen comments
  • Donna Grady, FPA teacher and FEA president speaking in citizen comments in regards to comments from prior meeting, should not be pitted teacher vs family
  • Need to reframe the comment on kids missing out, they are all in the same situation, they are not missing anything. This is not normal, if we push kids to school, they won't be interacting, they'll be sitting in desks separated, we all want folks to be safe #schcom1222
  • #schcom1222 we are in this together, please help us do this, we (teachers and staff) can't do this alone. We are not there yet and the situation is causing trauma, if academic progress is goal, we need to meet the basic safety goals first, staff and students are showing symptoms
  • Of trauma. Kids are told they are safe when they know other students are home in quarantine. Teachers are going above and beyond. They are frustrated about not doing their best, this will take months to repair. #schcom1222 please put mental health of our staff first
  • FHS representative says students understand everyone is doing their best. In person attendance dropping, many be multiple reasons for that. In a reselect process the numbers may change #schcom1222
Superintendents report
  • Superintendent report: update from DESE around student mental health and connection, instructional time daily to connect with teachers 34 hours over a ten day period, 40 hours over 10 4 asynchronous. Looking for consistency district 2 district. Did complete a survey #schcom1222
  • FPS meeting requirements. CARES funding deadline extended to Dec 2021, which will help to fulfill due to supply chain issues. #schcom1222 
  • Not universal on snow day for last Thursday. Compliments to teachers etc for doing fun stuff last Thursday.
  • This is Beth Simon's last night supporting the SchComm by doing notes. #schcom1222 not sure what funding does to the other building schedules for HVAC changes, purifiers are in or being deployed. Miss snow days but will be happy in June.
Guest/presentations
  • Guest presentations: ECDC up to share updates to talking to the doc  https://franklinps.net/district/school-committee/files/ecdc-update… #schcom1222 timely slide picks up points being made in comments
  • #schcom1222 taking time to build relationships, yes it may not be 6' but the little ones don't understand. Pics of staff with and without masks available. BTW participation up to 135+ in Zoom, 12 more viewing live stream, some #? also via the 2 cable channels
  • #schcom1222 went on a leaf hunt, and integrated leaves into various lessons there is an explanation and story for each photo on the slide. Need to set students up for success.#schcom1222 monthly newsletter went out today, folks overwhelmed, how can she best reach folks in a manner that resonates. (Video link in presentation doc)
  • #schcom1222 taking registration for next school year, hopefully it will be fully in person. Helpful info on the sheet here remote learning bags coming via COVID-19 funding.
  • #schcom1222 positive comments from the SchComm members on update from ECDC. This shows the amount of work and level of commitment to do this in person. Enjoy the time off.
  • Next up, performing arts update from Diane Plouffe kudos to staff and students for rolling through this craziness. Rehearsal in the fall outdoor for middle school band #schcom1222
  • https://www.franklinps.net/sites/g/files/vyhlif4431/f/uploads/franklin_performing_arts_department_presentation_2020.pdf presentation doc being shared and talked to for this update #schcom1222 the team!
  • New standards are a challenge with COVID restrictions #schcom1222 singing indoors currently not permitted
  • Can you imagine elementary music without singing or sharing instruments? They are finding a way #schcom1222 a virtual chorus rehearsal on Wednesdays. No beginner lessons as lifelong learning is not operating; over 500 students signed up
  • Sad looking rehearsal space, when used by students, everything is wiped down before students leave, wipes on music stands. #schcom1222
  • Exploring bringing band back in, working on details for approval through the channels. Sample horn mask, bell cover in plain black, to out logo on would be too much #schcom1222 ventilation being updated over the winter break.
  • Brief video clip shared of music performance with teacher performing with some students in room, some remote #schcom1222
  • The "brady bunch" video is not easy to do, each 3 minute piece takes about 24 hours of prep. #schcom1222
  • 60 students in middle school orchestra over 100 at FHS, expand the timing in the prior tweet by these #s to see total work required #schcom1222 
  • Drama club performed Clue on stage using same precautions as athletes did before rehearsal.
  • Video of 3 cohorts and then mixed with the students remote #schcom1222 
  • 8 students going to all state competition
  • https://www.franklinps.net/sites/g/files/vyhlif4431/f/uploads/franklin_performing_arts_department_presentation_2020.pdf resharing the presentation on performing arts, lots of the links are live music performances and worth checking out #schcom1222
  • Very positive comments from SchComm #schcom1222  
Superintendent goals
  • Moving along to superintendent goals, after subcommittee worked on them. Did get feedback on goals, from the posting pre-meeting. There is not enough of a focus on anti-racism, it is in the district improvement plan but in …
  • The broader context while not in the 2 shared it is embedded elsewhere and driving the work on this. Wants to be careful in sharing this. #schcom1222 there is a need to do more Communication, centrally and new mediums to explore. Collaboration folded in
  • Looking to expand Communication channels to share with the Community, i.e. blog. (Has been 'coming soon' since just after arrival) #schcom1222  https://www.franklinps.net/district/superintendent
  • Goal doc linked to https://franklinps.net/district/school-committee/files/disc-action-supt-goals-20-21… #schcom1222 sets a foundation for future development motion and second, passes via roll call 6-0-1 (6 for, 0 no, 1 absent)
2020-2021 calendar
Re-opening report
  • Also for discussion the re-opening report https://www.franklinps.net/sites/g/files/vyhlif4431/f/uploads/reopening_schools_status_update_dec_18_2020-2021.pdf #schcom1222 some of the 'red' status is due to timing, only .03 over the red line last week #schcom1222 priority standards for  learning and essential content
  • Did close survey on the K-1 families and staff, need to process the data, 360 responses from families, so good return rate. #schcom1222 some districts going remote post holiday, we are not yet planning to do so. In person/hybrid is valuable.
  • #schcom1222 looking at process of taking in reports and do contact tracing (will be complicated) will require administrator follow up, likely not as responsive; hence to have the first day as a remote learning day to allow for processing the reports from the break
  • Looking at Wednesday at FHS to provide some relief with common planning time, looking to add 2 asynchronous periods for planning, could also address student stress re: screen time. Seeing increase in absences, and coverage challenges. #schcom1222
  • #schcom1222 guidance has changed in the last week or so, DESE is now more aligned with the CDC and Dept of Public Health: adjusting the Communications accordingly. Flu vaccine date postponed until Feb, already 80% of students have reported compliance. Notice coming out
  • Looking to do a baseline survey in Jan for all staff, using other sources of info to obtain feedback. #schcom1222 K-1 summary should be available by next meeting, did put out a call for activity monitors and subs, be vigilant during break so we can be safe when we return
  • Q on sub rates and sub coverage options. Miriam provided the rates overview. Sara answered the what if questions and it depends (really it does) Elise remarks on the coverage puzzle is monumental. Not sustainable #schcom1222
  • #schcom1222 some districts have K-1 in school, most are hybrid, split between fully remote vs fully in person. Development of 2 artifacts to help support teachers and families for K-1 students. Sub availability due to timing of finger prints, cori checks
  • Using ESPs as subs does affect time delivering services (this happened pre-COVID-19 and the time of delivery is not easily made up if ever). #schcom1222 
  • Should consider more than one day for remote coming back may not be enough time to fully access the data
  • Extremely frustrating to get the COVID letters daily, students are staying home to go elsewhere over the break, but we can't. Timing on the cohort letters and knowing when the reports were noted. #schcom1222 
  • Moving to info matters
Subcommittee reports
  • Need to set up budget meetings #schcom1222 good showing at FinCom reported (really, not by my notes. SchCom/Central Office left info unshared when they had an opportunity to do so). People come here because of the schools, and being fiscally responsible.
  • Community relations, trying to get date for meeting; date being worked for legislative forum. Policy met on 12/17 with plans for moving; facilities update lengthy errors in presentation were after analysis and did not effect results. Population trends similar #schcom1222
  • #schcom1222 additional data coming mid January and get ready to summarize for SchCom date TBD 
  • Joint PCC rescheduled for January. Wellness exploring hydroponic expansion beyond FHS. Working on another challenge next meeting Jan 12
  • Safe Coalition update to SWAC presented earlier today, adapting and evolving to conditions. #schcom1222
Future agenda items
  • Student opportunity Act plan coming up for vote. FHS update, personnel update, and Oak St elementary will be a highlight. 
Consent agenda
  • Consent agenda motion to accept, second, passes 6-0-1 (6 for, 0 no, 1 absent) via roll call (D'Angelo absent) #schcom1222
Executive session
  • Motion to enter executive session, not to return to open meeting, second, approved 6-0-1 (see before in thread) via roll call
  • #schcom1222 that's all for tonight (and I think for meetings in 2020!) Catch you all later
Franklin (MA) School Committee meeting recap - Dec 22. 2020
Franklin (MA) School Committee meeting recap - Dec 22. 2020


Thursday, December 24, 2020

Town of Franklin - holiday office hours

The Town of Franklin Offices will be closed on Thursday, December 24th and Friday, December 25th. 

We will reopen for regular business hours on Monday, December 28th. 

The offices will close at noon on Thursday, December 31st, and will be closed on, Friday, January 1st. 

Have a happy and healthy holiday season! 

 

shared from the Town of Franklin page:

 

Town of Franklin - holiday office hours
Town of Franklin - holiday office hours

 

FHS Boys Hockey Mask Fundraiser through Dec 31, 2020

FHS Boys Hockey Masks for sale.  Fundraiser to support FHS Boys Hockey.  $14 masks shipped directly to your address.

Clink mask in link to place your orders.  Limited quantity store open until 12/31/20.  Thank you for your support!


FHS Boys Hockey Mask Fundraiser through Dec 31, 2020
FHS Boys Hockey Mask Fundraiser through Dec 31, 2020

Franklin Food Pantry distributes holiday meals

On December 21, The Franklin Food Pantry distributed 245 holiday meals to our neighbors. 

Our neighbors received a delicious Boars Head ham with brown sugar glaze, side dishes, a warm holiday gift, candy, cookies and either Dunkin or Starbucks coffee. It was wonderful to see so many smiles to end this difficult year. 

We have many people to thank for their donations and assistance to making this special meal happen.

Thank you to:
  • Amazon Wish List Participants for Dunkin Coffee and Sugar Cookie Mixes
  • B Luxe Salon
  • Bodiya Family
  • Chris Feeley
  • Metrowest Provisions and their customers
  • Starbucks Franklin
  • Shaw’s
Thank you to everyone who continues to support The Pantry and our neighbors. Happy holidays to you and wishing you a safe and happy new year! 
 


Franklin Food Pantry distributes holiday meals
Franklin Food Pantry distributes holiday meals


Legislature Passes Comprehensive Health Care Legislation Amid Pandemic

Today (12/23/20), Senate President Karen E. Spilka and House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo, along with their colleagues in the Legislature, voted to pass An Act promoting a resilient health care system that puts patients first. This landmark legislation, which includes a number of notable health care reforms, expands patient access to care by lifting barriers to accessing telehealth services, broadens the scope of practice for certain health care professionals, requires advance notice of a provider’s network status in order to avoid surprise medical bills and improves coverage for COVID-19 testing and treatment amid the most serious public health crisis in modern history.

“This pandemic has brought an urgency to the need to make quality healthcare more accessible to all,” said Senate President Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland). “By eliminating barriers to care, protecting patients from surprise billing practices, and advancing our state’s support for community hospitals, testing sites and medical staff, this comprehensive legislation will equip healthcare providers to truly put patients first. I am particularly happy that rate parity for telehealth services will remain a permanent option for Massachusetts patients – thereby expanding efficiency in care while reducing stress for everyone involved. I want to offer my thanks to Senator Friedman, Leader Mariano and their fellow conferees for their hard work, as well as Speaker DeLeo for his partnership in advancing these significant reforms."

“This legislation advances health care reform efforts backed by the House and brought into fine focus during to the COVID-19 pandemic including a permanent telehealth coverage mandate, protections for consumers from surprise medical bills and much needed financial assistance to our community hospitals on the frontlines of patient care,” said Speaker Robert A. DeLeo (D-Winthrop). “These are comprehensive and necessary reforms that will strengthen the Massachusetts health care system. I am grateful to Leader Mariano, who has been instrumental in reforming health care in Massachusetts, including our landmark 2012 law, and my colleagues in the House for their work to advance this legislation, and thank Senate President Spilka and our colleagues in the Senate for their partnership.”

“This conference committee report embraces the best of both the Senate and House bills to create comprehensive and necessary healthcare reforms,” said Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington), co-chair of the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing. “While there is still more to do to improve patient outcomes and access to care, this bill takes a meaningful step forward by ensuring that the Commonwealth’s healthcare system can continue to meet the needs of patients during this unprecedented time, and long after the COVID-19 pandemic has ended. I am grateful to the House for their collaboration and to Senate President Spilka and Chair Rodrigues for their leadership and for giving me the opportunity and responsibility to help the Senate negotiate a resolution to this significant bill.”

“This legislation will help mitigate the current strain on the health care sector’s finances and workforce caused by the pandemic, while also ushering in a long-lasting transformation in the way people access health care services,” said Majority Leader Ronald Mariano (D-Quincy). “From guaranteeing telehealth coverage to expanding the practice authority of certain advanced practice nurses, this bill is an important step in our recovery.” 

"The conference report continues to advance our goal of transforming mental health care access and delivery in Massachusetts," said State Senator Julian Cyr (D-Truro), co-chair of the Joint Committee on Mental Health, Substance Use and Recovery. "This legislation will do so much good, but particularly it will expand mental health care access for rural residents, people of color, working families, and young people.”

“I am proud to support COVID-19 relief for all citizens of our Commonwealth, and this legislation will remove barriers for patients and strengthen our health care infrastructure,” said Representative John Mahoney (D-Worcester), Chair of the Joint Committee on Public Health.

“Our caucus has consistently worked to secure many of the key components of this bill, including expanded scopes of practice for health care providers, the deployment and maintenance of expansive telehealth services to serve patients efficiently and effectively without them having to leave home, and a greater role for pharmacists in the delivery of health care,” said Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester). “While these things have always been important, the global pandemic has stress - tested our health care system in a way that illustrates even more clearly the need to act on them.

The passage of the bill signals the strengthening of medical care in our Commonwealth for today and the future.”

“The legislation addresses several key factors in making health care more accessible and medical bills less surprising,” said Representative Randy Hunt (R-Sandwich). “Telehealth is here to stay and combined with expansion of practice responsibilities, more people in more places will receive quality medical care. I especially applaud mandatory coverage for PANS and PANDAS and my heart goes out to all of the families dealing with these devastating conditions.”

The bill’s components are highlighted below.

Telehealth

The bill makes telehealth permanently accessible to all in Massachusetts. From the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, these services experienced a dramatic expansion, enabling patients across the state to continue receiving vital medical care through videoconference or phone without risking exposure to the coronavirus. The bill requires insurance carriers, including MassHealth, to cover telehealth services in any case where the same in-person service would be covered, and the use of telehealth is appropriate. This coverage mandate will give providers certainty and allow them to make investments that will expand geographic access, reduce delays in care, and improve both pre- and post-care treatment.

Under the bill, behavioral health treatment delivered via telehealth will be permanently reimbursed by insurers at the same rate as in-person services. A similar reimbursement structure will also be implemented for primary care and chronic disease management services delivered via telehealth for two years. All other telehealth care services will be reimbursed at the same rate as in-person services for the duration of the COVID-19 state of emergency, and 90 days after its expiration. Equalizing telehealth and in-person payment rates as the state emerges from the pandemic is critical to offering safe care options for patients, incentivizing continued expansion of services, and providing a financial lifeline for hospitals, doctors and community health centers that have shifted largely to telehealth services.

Since expanded use of telehealth has and will continue to affect the Commonwealth’s health care system in a variety of ways, the bill also includes an analysis of telehealth coverage and payment to inform future policy decisions.

Expanding Patient Access

Building on additional lessons learned during the pandemic, An Act promoting a resilient health care system that puts patients first authorizes several health care professionals to practice at the top of their license and training while reducing barriers to care and maintaining patient safety. The bill enables nurse practitioners, nurse anesthetists and psychiatric nurse mental health specialists to practice independently, provided that they meet certain education and training standards, and practice under physician supervision for at least two years. These standards are consistent with a March 10, 2020 Executive Order that expanded this same practice authority to advanced-practice registered nurses during the COVID-19 emergency.

In addition, the bill allows Massachusetts optometrists to treat glaucoma and recognizes pharmacists as health care providers, enabling them to integrate more fully into coordinated care teams and work with patients to review medications to ensure medication adherence and identify areas for care improvement.

COVID-19 Testing and Treatment

As the pandemic continues, it is crucial to ensure that COVID-19 testing and treatment services are as widely accessible as possible. To that end, this bill ensures that critical services related to treatment of COVID-19 would be covered by insurance carriers, including MassHealth, at no cost to consumers. These services include COVID-19-related emergency, inpatient and cognitive rehabilitation services, including all professional, diagnostic and laboratory services at both in-network and out-of-network providers. This bill also requires coverage for medically necessary outpatient COVID-19 testing, including testing for asymptomatic individuals, under circumstances to be defined by guidelines established by the Secretary of Health and Human Services within 30 days of the effective date of this bill.

Surprise Billing

The bill increases protections for patients against the unfair practice of surprise medical billing. In the short term, the bill immediately institutes requirements for health care providers and insurance carriers to notify patients of a health care provider’s network status before a non-emergency procedure occurs. The patient can thereby avoid a surprise medical bill and make an informed decision about where to seek care. In the long term, this bill tasks the Secretary of Health and Human Services—in consultation with the Health Policy Commission, the Center for Health Information and Analysis and the Division of Insurance—to develop a report by September 1, 2021 that makes recommendations on establishing a fair and sustainable out-of-network rate to resolve the costs of uncovered care.

Improving Future Care

To understand the ongoing effects of COVID-19 on health care accessibility, quality and fiscal sustainability and the implications of those effects on long-term policy considerations, the bill directs the Health Policy Commission and the Center for Health Information and Analysis to analyze and report on the state of the Commonwealth’s health care delivery system amid COVID-19. The analysis will include an inventory of all health care services and resources serving Massachusetts residents from birth to death, as well as an analysis of existing health care disparities due to economic, geographic, racial or other factors.

Other notable reforms in An Act promoting a resilient health care system that puts patients first include:

 -   Requiring insurance carriers to cover pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorders associated with streptococcal infections (PANDAS) and pediatric acute-onset neuropsychiatric syndromes (PANS) and establishing a PANDAS/PANS Advisory Council within the Department of Public Health;
 -   Providing assistance by authorizing enhanced monthly Medicaid payments for certain community hospitals for two years to help mitigate the unprecedented financial challenges community hospitals continue to face during the COVID-19 pandemic;
 -   Eliminating a barrier to participation in cancer clinical trials by allowing reimbursement for a cancer patient’s reasonable travel and accommodation expenses associated with participating in a cancer clinical trial;
 -   Eliminating a barrier to access urgent care services for low-income residents by ending the requirement that MassHealth patients first obtain a referral from a primary care provider before seeking care at an urgent care facility, while also ensuring that urgent care facilities and MassHealth assist patients with the process of designating a primary care provider;
 -   Establishing a Rare Disease Advisory Council to advise the Governor, the Legislature and the Department of Public Health on the incidence of rare disease in the Commonwealth and the status of the rare disease community; and
 -   Ensuring that a registered nurse with demonstrated expertise in the development and utilization of innovative treatments for patient care is a member of the Health Policy Commission’s board.

The bill now goes to the Governor. 

From CommonWealth Magazine: 
 
 
 
Legislature Passes Comprehensive Health Care Legislation Amid Pandemic
Legislature Passes Comprehensive Health Care Legislation Amid Pandemic


Do your part, Franklin (video)

Let's all do our part to stay healthy this holiday season! #DoYourPartFranklin
 
 

Franklin, MA: 1900 to 1909 (video)

Joe Landry provides this video about the history of Franklin, MA from 1900 to 1909. 
 
Direct video link:  https://youtu.be/Lax_VU2EA3k 
 

Naked Security Live: "Watch out for Messenger scams!"

"IM and social media accounts feel less open to spammers and scammers than email - until a crook gets into a friend's account and sends from there..."
Direct video link = https://youtu.be/IzUZ6rBpOso

 

"technologies are not perfect and they are never going to be perfect"

The Boston Globe has the following:

"Massachusetts public safety officials have halted use of a controversial license plate surveillance system on roadways across the state after finding a glitch with the technology that caused it to record inaccurate data for more than five years, according to a memo obtained by the Globe.

The inaccuracies were found within a network of high-speed cameras installed by the State Police that automatically photograph the license plates of passing vehicles. The data, including location, date, and time, is compiled in a massive database and used for criminal investigations and even finding suspects in real time — all without obtaining warrants or court orders.

The breadth of the newfound problem — and the impact it will have on an untold number of criminal cases — was not immediately clear Wednesday."

Continue reading the article online (subscription may be required)
 
As I read this, the 'glitch; is in the date/time stamp and not the photo. Have you ever turned off a digital device to replace a battery and then, when turning it on, needed to reset the date and time? Apparently, that is what is happening with the cameras here. Something in the power goes out, when starting up again, the date/time is not accurate. It may default to "01/01/1900"  as some devices do.


Trinity Rep performs A Christmas Carol - "Brimming with creativity and innovation"

A Christmas Carol OnlineUnlimited free streaming through Jan. 10

Trinity Rep's A Christmas Carol Online is now streaming for free. Simply register at the links below for your access link. Watch as many times as you want and on your schedule!

"The results offer delightful contrasts — traditional yet trendy, spooky yet warm, edgy yet endearing — that will prove appealing to audiences of all ages...streaming for free through Jan. 10, is a show for the ages, brimming with the creativity and innovation Trinity audiences have missed for months...  - Providence Journal

"...bringing invention and tradition together in a celebration of innovative spirit and holiday cheer...In a year when we have lost so much and so many, Trinity Rep's A CHRISTMAS CAROL ONLINE is an inspired holiday transformation that - much like Scrooge's own - feels nothing short of a Christmas miracle." - Broadway World

For detailed information about viewing the show, including tips for technical set up, view our FAQ page  https://www.trinityrep.com/box-office/how-to-watch-faqs/

Check out our Viewer Guide to read more about the show and artists, and get family activities, games, and recipes   https://www.trinityrep.com/app/uploads/2020/12/ACC-viewer-guide-2020.pdf

A Christmas Carol Online = Unlimited free streaming through Jan. 10

A Christmas Carol OnlineUnlimited free streaming through Jan. 10



"Travel bans are an overly simplistic solution"

Dr. Angela Rasmussen (@angie_rasmussen) tweeted at 10:50 AM on Wed, Dec 23, 2020:
"Travel bans are an overly simplistic solution to new variants with potentially new properties & reflect a superficial understanding of viral mutation. They are also a missed opportunity to educate people with more nuance. My latest for the @guardian."
https://twitter.com/angie_rasmussen/status/1341773116549132300
 
"We can probably expect to see other variants that may be more effective at spreading, causing disease or circumventing our immune responses. We must be prepared to respond in an informed and thoughtful way, rather than reactively. Unfortunately, because Sars-CoV-2 is spreading so widely, the virus has many opportunities to develop mutations that give it a competitive advantage. The only way to stop the virus from mutating is to take away its ability to replicate, which means drastically reducing community transmission.

Mutations do not automatically make a virus a more exceptional pathogen. The advantages conferred by positively selected viral mutations are good for the virus, but aren’t necessarily always bad for the human host. Many mutations can make the virus better at infecting cells, replicating, or transmitting to new hosts, but will have no effect on the severity or type of disease that they cause. In the case of B.1.1.7, there is fortunately no indication that the 23 mutations distinguishing the variant result in more severe Covid-19"
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/dec/23/travel-bans-effective-new-covid-variant

"Commuter Rail lines will continue to operate on the Reduced Service Schedule"

All Commuter Rail lines will continue to operate on the Reduced Service Schedule on weekdays through Friday, January 8th, due to Covid-19 impact in communities and in the workforce. Weekend trains will operate on regular schedule.

Reduced Service Schedule is available from MBTA.com/cr and at South Station, North Station and Back Bay.

Bikes will be allowed on board all trains.

We will be reviewing staff numbers on a weekly basis to determine when we can be confident of being able to restore the full service.


Last Updated: Dec 23 2020 12:09 PM 

 

"Commuter Rail lines will continue to operate on the Reduced Service Schedule"
"Commuter Rail lines will continue to operate on the Reduced Service Schedule"


Wednesday, December 23, 2020

wfpr.fm: Franklin Matters Radio show schedule

The wfpr.fm Franklin Matters Radio schedule for this week 12/23/20:

  • Town Council "quarterbacking" Wednesday at 9:00 AM, 1:00 PM and 6:00 PM
  • “Talk Franklin” - Wednesday at 11:00 AM, 2:00 PM and 8:00 PM 

 

On Saturday both shows replay

  • Town Council "quarterbacking" at 9:00 AM
  • “Talk Franklin” at 3:00 PM

And if you can't make the radio schedule, the podcast (on-demand) version is available

Town Council "quarterbacking" = https://www.franklinmatters.org/2020/12/fm-420-town-council-quarterbacking.html

"Talk Franklin" = https://www.franklinmatters.org/2020/12/fm-419-talk-franklin-121820-audio.html

 


wfpr.fm: Franklin Matters Radio show schedule
wfpr.fm: Franklin Matters Radio show schedule


FM #421 Health Director Cathleen Liberty - 12/17/20 (audio)

FM #421 = This is the Franklin Matters radio show, number 421 in the series.

This shares my conversation withTown of Franklin, MA Health Director Cathleen Liberty. We had our conversation via conference bridge to adhere to the social distancing requirements of this pandemic period.

In this session we talk about:

  • Current status
  • Vaccine planning
  • Health prescription ‘Pantry’
  • Mental health status, emotions
  • Look back – one thing to be grateful for
  • Looking ahead – what does 2021 hold?


Our conversation runs about 35 minutes, so let’s listen in.  Audio file = https://www.hipcast.com/podcast/HB80Cd9S

 
 
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Town of Franklin Health Dept page https://www.franklinma.gov/health-department

If you have a question, you can call the Health Dept at (508) 520-4905

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We are now producing this in collaboration with Franklin.TV and Franklin Public Radio (wfpr.fm) or 102.9 on the Franklin area radio dial. 

This podcast is my public service effort for Franklin but we can't do it alone. We can always use your help.

How can you help?
  • If you can use the information that you find here, please tell your friends and neighbors
  • If you don't like something here, please let me know
Through this feedback loop we can continue to make improvements. I thank you for listening.

For additional information, please visit Franklinmatters.org/

If you have questions or comments you can reach me directly at shersteve @ gmail dot com

The music for the intro and exit was provided by Michael Clark and the group "East of Shirley". The piece is titled "Ernesto, manana"  c. Michael Clark & Tintype Tunes, 2008 and used with their permission.

I hope you enjoy!

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You can also subscribe and listen to Franklin Matters audio on iTunes or your favorite podcast app; search in "podcasts" for "Franklin Matters"

Town of Franklin Health Director Cathleen Liberty
Town of Franklin Health Director Cathleen Liberty