State Representatives Sánchez, Linsky, Naughton announce public hearings examining operational environment at Massachusetts Department of Public Health
BOSTON— House Chairs Jeffrey Sánchez, David Linsky and Harold Naughton. announced three public hearings to examine operational and procedural practices at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. As Chairmen of legislative committees with concurrent jurisdiction over public health, governmental oversight and public safety, the three Representatives have requested key government officials to appear and answer questions on the Department’s capacity to safeguard the public health and safety of the Commonwealth in light of the recent fungal meningitis outbreak and the lapses at the state drug lab.
“These hearings will provide a crucial, transparent forum to determine if the Commonwealth’s laws, regulations, and practices best support the Department of Public Health’s goal to help people lead healthy lives in our communities,” said Representative Jeffrey Sánchez, House Chairman of the Joint Committee on Public Health. “This review of state operations is critical to ensure that, moving forward, government functions to promote safety and accountability so we can avoid the mistakes that led to the crisis at the state drug lab and with the Board of Pharmacy’s oversight of compound pharmacies.”
“It is our job as legislators and Chairman of our respective committees to learn from these cases, look forward, and make sure that this never happens again,” said Representative David Linsky Chairman of the House Committee on Post Audit and Oversight. “These hearings will allow the House to learn about the performance of the state’s crimes labs, Board of Pharmacy and the Department of Public Health and make any necessary recommendations based on our findings.”
“While assuring Constitutional protections, the safety and security of the people of this Commonwealth is one of the most vital roles of our state government,” said Representative Harold Naughton, House Chairman of the Joint Committee of Public Safety and Homeland Security. “These hearings are essential in providing the oversight and review necessary to ensure the public that the negligent, and possibly malicious, conduct that led to the current crises in the state drug lab and Board of Pharmacy will be corrected, and that the safety of the public will not be jeopardized.”
The hearings will examine current supervisory and regulatory protocols of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and its offices related to the practice of pharmacy, health profession licensure, health facility inspections and general health care patient and consumer protection. Government officials will be expected to provide an account of the operational structure, statutory and regulatory authority, staff qualifications and training, internal standards and practices, and investigatory and oversight capabilities of the division or agency the official oversees.
The first hearing will address divisions, agencies, and boards responsible for pharmacy oversight in Massachusetts, while the second will examine supervision and procedures of the state drug laboratory. A third hearing is planned to assess stakeholder perspective on state and Department oversight, regulatory action, and transparency.
The Chairmen anticipate testimony from a wide array of public health, industry and government officials. Hearings will be held at the State House in Gardner Auditorium. The first and second hearings are scheduled for Wednesday, November 14, 2012 at 10:30 AM and Wednesday, November 28, 2012. The date and time for a third hearing will be available in the coming weeks.