Nearly four years ago, Massachusetts passed a broad state law entitled the Act to Promote Cost Containment, Transparency and Efficiency in the Delivery of Quality Health Care—with the objective of curbing healthcare costs. The Act, pragmatically, resulted in a statewide ban against drug companies from giving items of value, including meals, to doctors. Meals were only permitted if provided during an educational presentation given in formal setting. Restaurants, naturally, became the biggest lobbyist against this portion of the Act and in favor of its amendment or repeal.
Accordingly, in an effort to change the law, the Massachusetts Restaurant Association has been arguing that the ban on the wine & dine of doctors has had no impact on health care costs, but rather on local restaurant owners, some of whom, it claims, have even had to shut their doors because of the ban. Welcomed news has come to the MRA and restaurants across Massachusetts. As of July 1, 2012, the first day of the new state budget for this fiscal year, the Massachusetts state legislature has passed a budget that includes a provision under which drug and medical device companies are once again permitted to sponsor “modest” meals for doctors in non-clinical settings. The scope of the term “modest” is to be determined by the Department of Public Health.
This change in the law should now allow the un-intended hardships caused to restaurants, especially in the Boston area which has an extraordinarily high concentration of hospitals and medical practitioners, to get back to hosting the business it was accustomed to hosting more than four years ago.
Contributed by Robin E. Sosnow