Gov. Baker Signs Groundbreaking Alzheimer’s Legislation

BOSTON — Gov. Charlie Baker recently signed the Massachusetts Alzheimer’s and Dementia Act, a first-of-its-kind bill that unanimously passed both the House of Representatives and the Senate earlier this year. More than 130,000 people are currently living with Alzheimer’s disease in Massachusetts, and those individuals are being cared for by more than 337,000 family and friends. According to the Alzheimer’s Assoc., Massachusetts will spend more than $1.6 billion in 2018 in Medicaid costs caring for people with Alzheimer’s. The governor signed the legislation shortly after approving $100,000 for public awareness about the disease in the most recent FY19 budget. There are five major areas of focus within the bill: establishing a comprehensive state plan to address Alzheimer’s disease within the Executive Office of Health and Human Services, while also establishing a permanent advisory council to help coordinate government efforts and ensure that public and private resources are maximized and leveraged; requiring curriculum content about Alzheimer’s and other dementias be incorporated into continuing-medical-education programs required for granting the renewal of licensure for physicians, physician assistants, registered nurses, and licensed nurse practitioners; ensuring proper notification of an Alzheimer’s or dementia diagnosis to the family or legal guardian and providing information on available resources to both the patient and family; improving cost-effectiveness and patient and caregiver experience in acute-care settings by requiring all state hospitals to implement an operational plan for the recognition and management of patients with dementia or delirium accountable to the Department of Public Health; and establishing minimum training standards for elder protective services social workers, to ensure protection from abuse and exploitation for elders with Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Big Y Combats Opioid Crisis with Deterra System

SPRINGFIELD — Big Y Pharmacy and Wellness Centers, along with all Big Y supermarkets, are now carrying the Deterra Drug Deactivation System at all stores in Massachusetts and Connecticut. This is a drug-disposal pouch which allows people to easily and effectively dispose of unused or expired medications, even opioid painkillers, at home. Anyone can use a Deterra pouch to deactivate drugs, including pills, liquids, and patches. Each Deterra pouch contains activated carbon, which firmly bonds to pharmaceuticals, rendering them inert and unavailable for abuse. The Deterra pouch is the only environmentally sound, in-home drug-disposal system that permanently deactivates drugs. Big Y hopes to help combat the opioid crisis by stocking these deactivation kits in all its stores to provide customers with a safe and reliable way to keep unused medications from being diverted to abuse. Currently, the pouches are on sale for the introductory price of $3.99 for each pouch, which has the capacity to deactivate up to 45 pills, six ounces of liquid, or six patches.

Unemployment Holds Steady in July

BOSTON — The state’s total unemployment rate increased to 3.6% in July from the June rate of 3.5%, the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development announced. The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ preliminary job estimates indicate Massachusetts added 4,800 jobs in July. Over the month, the private sector added 5,900 jobs as gains occurred in education and health services; professional, scientific, and business services; construction; manufacturing; and trade, transportation, and utilities. From July 2017 to July 2018, BLS estimates Massachusetts has added 66,800 jobs. The July unemployment rate was three-tenths of a percentage point lower than the national rate of 3.9% reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Job estimates show the Commonwealth has gained over 51,000 jobs since December and 213,600 jobs since January 2015. These job gains, alongside low unemployment rates and labor-force growth, are signs of the continued health of the Massachusetts labor market,” Labor and Workforce Development Secretary Rosalin Acosta said. The labor force increased by 27,100 from 3,758,900 in June, as 24,700 more residents were employed and 2,400 more residents were unemployed over the month. Over the year, the state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate decreased one-tenth of a percentage point from 3.7% in July 2017. The state’s labor force participation rate — the total number of residents 16 or older who worked or were unemployed and actively sought work in the last four weeks — is up four-tenths of a percentage point over the month at 67.3%. Compared to July 2017, the labor force participation rate is up 1.8%. The largest private-sector percentage job gains over the year were in construction; professional, scientific, and business services; leisure and hospitality; and other services.