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BOSTON – The Senate on Tuesday unanimously approved legislation to increase opportunities for long-term substance abuse recovery in the Commonwealth by supporting a continuum of care and removing barriers that stand in the way of effective treatment, Senator Marc R. Pacheco (D-Taunton) announced.

“I was proud to join my colleagues in the Senate today in passing comprehensive legislation that aims to address the substance abuse crisis we face in Massachusetts,” Pacheco said. “Substance abuse touches families from every corner of the Commonwealth; we must ensure every citizen has access to the tools that help prevent drug addiction as well as the treatment network that puts those suffering from addiction on the path to recovery.”

“Massachusetts is experiencing a crisis in opiate addiction, and the time to act is now,” Senate President Therese Murray (D-Plymouth) said. “Addiction levels are at the highest in history, reaching to every community, ripping apart families and damaging futures of our young people. This bill outlines steps we can take to increase treatment and create a continuum of care that addresses the public health, public safety and economic impact of this epidemic.”

“This bill is another major step by the Legislature to prevent and treat addiction,” said Senator John F. Keenan (D-Quincy), Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Public Health. “We know, however, that this epidemic is constantly evolving, that addiction poses a very complicated challenge, and that our work in this area is not complete.”

“Over the past several months, we’ve traveled the Commonwealth hearing testimony from those on the front line of this addiction crisis,” said Senator Jennifer L. Flanagan (D-Leominster), Chair of the Senate Special Committee on Drug Abuse and Treatment Options. “We’ve heard that access to treatment is one of the biggest obstacles; I am proud that this legislation takes important first steps in remedying lack of access to meaningful treatment. This bill has also taken important steps to streamline the overall treatment system.”

“Substance abuse has been an ongoing problem throughout the state, and a heartbreaking situation for hundreds of families, which has exacted a toll on many state agencies,” said Senator Stephen M. Brewer (D-Barre), Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “We must tackle this problem immediately and head on, and this bill does just that.”

“Substance abuse and behavioral health issues impact far too many of our families, and this bill is an important step toward providing the support and access to treatment that they need,” said Attorney General Martha Coakley. “I want to commend the Senate President for her strong leadership on this important issue as we provide resources to prevent substance abuse and also work to give more people hope for a path out of addiction."

To curb the public health risk of Schedule II and III drugs, the bill requires the Drug Formulary Commission to prepare a drug formulary of appropriate substitutions, which must include abuse deterrent properties and consideration of cost and accessibility for consumers. Insurance carriers are required to cover abuse deterrent drugs listed on the formulary in the same manner that they cover non-abuse deterrent drugs and cannot impose additional cost burdens on consumers who receive abuse deterrent drugs.

If there is no abuse deterrent substitution available, the Commissioner of the Department of Public Health can issue regulations related to the drug, including mandating that a physician review the patient’s prescription history, check the Prescription Monitoring Program, educate the patient on addiction, limit the quantity of pills and conduct a risk assessment before prescribing. The Commissioner is also authorized to schedule a substance as Schedule I for up to one year if it poses an imminent hazard to public safety and is not already listed in a different schedule.

The bill strengthens the Prescription Monitoring Program by requiring physicians to receive training on the Program before renewing their licenses. It also requires them to consult with the Program before writing a prescription on an annual basis for patients who receive ongoing treatment of a controlled substance and before writing a new or replacement prescription.

In the event that a death is caused by a controlled substance, the Chief Medical Examiner is required to file a report with the FDA’s MedWatch Program and the Department of Public Health and directs DPH to review the Program upon receiving a report.

The bill creates a commission to review prescription painkiller limitations by insurance carriers, including the system implemented by Blue Cross Blue Shield, and report recommendations and proposed legislation to the Legislature.

To bill also does the following to increase the quality of and access to treatment:

· Removes prior authorization for Acute Treatment Services for all MassHealth Managed Care Entities and requires coverage of up to 15 days of Clinical Stabilization Services;

· Removes prior authorization for Acute Treatment Services and Clinical Stabilization Services for commercial insurers and requires coverage for a total of up to 21 days before engaging in utilization management activities;

· Directs the Health Policy Commission, in consultation with the Department of Public Health, to determine standards for evidence-based, effective substance abuse treatment with high quality outcomes and create a certification process for providers, and once certified, insurance carriers are prohibited from requiring prior authorization for services offered by a certified provider; and

· Requires all insurance carriers to reimburse for substance abuse treatment services delivered by a Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor.

In addition, it directs the Center for Health Information and Analysis to review the accessibility of substance abuse treatment and adequacy of insurance coverage and tasks the Health Policy Commission with recommending policies to ensure access and coverage for substance abuse treatment throughout the Commonwealth, as well as review denial rates for substance abuse treatment coverage by commercial insurers.

The bill will now go to the House for consideration.

For more information, contact Pacheco’s office at 617-722-1551,
visit his Facebook page at or follow Pacheco on Twitter (@MarcRPacheco).

VA New England Healthcare System Announces New Medical Center Director

Ng Brings Leadership, Proven Experience to VA Boston Healthcare System

BOSTON — The Department of Veterans Affairs is pleased to announce the appointment of Mr. Vincent Ng as the new director of VA Boston Healthcare System (HCS). Ng will oversee a comprehensive healthcare system classified as a Complexity Level 1a facility that provides care to approximately 67,000 unique Veterans from throughout New England, with an operating budget of $760+ million.

“We are pleased to appoint Mr. Ng as the new director of VA Boston HCS,” said Dr. Michael Mayo-Smith, Veterans Integrated Service Network (VISN) 1 director. “His sound leadership qualities and proven experience will be valuable assets for the facility, the employees and volunteers, and for New England’s Veterans we are honored to serve. We anticipate he will transition to this role at the medical center within the next 45 to 60 days.”

Ng’s almost 35 years of healthcare experience holding progressive leadership positions includes 17 years as VA Medical Center Director in Newington and West Haven, Conn. and Providence R.I., two years as VISN Director, Lincoln, Neb. and six years as Associate VAMC Director in Lebanon and Philadelphia, Pa. Ng has been serving as Director, Providence VAMC since September 2000 and is currently the Acting Director of VA Boston HCS.

Ng earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Health from University of Washington Seattle, Wash. in 1977 and a Master of Business Administration in Health Care Administration from Trinity University, San Antonio, Texas in 1979. Ng received the Federal Executive Board’s Bud Gifford leadership award and the Providence Mayor’s citation for his community partnership. He also received the R.I. Veterans of Foreign Wars’ 2010 Healthcare Employee of the Year award.

VA Boston Healthcare System is part of VA New England Healthcare System which includes eight medical centers, located in the six New England States: Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts. It is an integral part of VISN 1 comprised of three main campuses located in West Roxbury, Jamaica Plain and Brockton, Mass., and five Community Based Outpatient Clinics (CBOCs) located in Lowell, Framingham, Quincy and Plymouth and on Causeway St. in Boston.

OCA Asks FDA to Prohibit Use of the Word
‘Natural’ in Products Containing GMOs

‘Natural’ Products Industry Pockets $60-Billion a Year by Duping Consumers;
Consumers Lash Back with Class Action Lawsuits

FINLAND, Minn. The Organic Consumers Association (OCA) has launched a petition asking the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) to ban the practice of labeling products that have been genetically engineered as “natural.” The action follows a spate of class-action lawsuits, including the recent landmark $9 million settlement against PepsiCo. According to plaintiffs, PepsiCo deceptively labeled its Naked Juice products as “natural” and “non-GMO.”

“The FDA has for far too long dodged its responsibility to define “natural” as it applies to food products,” said Ronnie Cummins, National Director of the OCA. “Recent class-action lawsuits make it clear that consumers are tired of being misled by food manufacturers. It’s time for the FDA to make it unlawful for food manufacturers to label their products “natural” when those products contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs).”

Routine mislabeling and marketing of "natural products" has enabled this shadow sector to grow into a $60-billion dollar a year industry by duping unsuspecting organic customers.

A recent poll by the Hartman group illustrates the confusion driving the profits of the natural products industry. Fully 61% of respondents erroneously believed that the use of the word “natural” implies or suggests the absence of GMOs, versus 63% who correctly believed that the label "organic" means that a product is GMO-free.

In late July of this year, plaintiffs won a landmark $9 million settlement against junk food giant PepsiCo for allegedly labeling its line of Naked Juice products inaccurately as “natural” and "non-GMO." PepsiCo was also forced to agree to remove the label “all natural” from its juices. PepsiCo continues to deny that Naked Juice contains GMOs, and has submitted the product to the Non-GMO Project for testing.

Now, “natural” brands are facing another class action lawsuit for concealing the fact that some of their favorite foods have been genetically engineered. In an effort to stall the lawsuits, defense lawyers have convinced at least one judge that the FDA, not the courts, should decide whether GMOs are “natural.”

“This is a clever strategy on the part of the lawyers representing food companies, given that the FDA’s Deputy Commissioner for Foods is none other than Monsanto’s former lawyer, Michael Taylor,” said Cummins. “Whose side do you think the FDA will take?”

OCA recently compiled a top 10 list of reasons why GMOs aren’t natural. Included among them are:
1.Genetic engineering is an imprecise technology that creates unpredictable changes in the DNA of the resulting product.
2.Genetic engineers do not “check their work” to look for potential collateral damage, even though the genetic engineering process can be expected to rearrange, delete or change the function of important genes.
3.The engineered DNA of GMOs produce new proteins that can be toxic or allergenic.
4.The new genes introduced to the body by genetically engineered foods don’t get broken down during digestion.

The Organic Consumers Association (OCA) is an online and grassroots non-profit 501(c)3 public interest organization advocating on behalf of more than one million consumers for health, justice, and sustainability. The Organic Consumers Fund is a 501(c)4 allied organization of the Organic Consumers Association, focused on grassroots lobbying and legislative action.

The Ultimate Superfood from Carrington Farms Powers Heart-Healthy New Year Resolutions

Ready-to-eat Flax Chia Blend Fuels Wholesome Breakfasts, Lunches & Dinners to Aid in Weight Loss and Disease Prevention

New Jersey – 2013 – For the estimated one-third of Americans who will make New Year’s resolutions to eat better and lose weight in the upcoming months, there is now a convenient product line to help them achieve their goals. Carrington Farms, the manufacturer of healthy foods for healthy souls, is offering the ultimate superfood – ready-to-eat Organic Milled Flax Chia Blend – to enable Americans to stay true to their resolutions and live their highest quality life in 2013.

The Flax Chia blend combines Organic Milled Flax Seeds with Chia Seeds resulting in a nutritious blend that is overflowing with a wealth of health benefits. Chia seeds, low in carbs and gluten free, are packed with Omega 3’s, vitamins, antioxidants, protein, fiber, and minerals such as calcium, magnesium and zinc. Organic Milled Flax Seeds are also loaded with Omega 3’s, fiber, antioxidants, and minerals, but have the added benefit of hormone balancing phytoestrogens called lignans, all of which help promote a healthy lifestyle. Together, the perfect balance of the combined blend provides an excellent source of energy and nutrients for lasting heart health and boosted metabolism resulting in the ultimate “Superfood”.

Additionally, the combination of organic milled flax and chia together offers a product that is almost unrivaled in its fiber and healthy fat content and is a great component for helping New Year resolutioners lose and maintain their weight. Many dieters have found that organic milled flax and chia seeds have been a key to keeping them feeling satisfied. Nutritionist, Deborah Orlick Levy, MS, RD, encourages her patients to incorporate flax into their daily nutrition plans and explains, “Flax is one of the best sources of Omega 3 healthy fat that can help speed the process of losing weight while also helping to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. It is also beneficial in alleviating symptoms of hypertension, joint pain, and an array of other ailments. I often tell people that you can spend your money on healthy eating now or you can spend your money at the doctor’s office later in life.”

Healthy eating will begin in the kitchen and the Flax Chia blend offers the convenience of nutrition that can easily and tastily be incorporated into the daily meal prep routine for breakfast, lunch and dinner. With a delicious and subtle nutty flavor, it can be sprinkled over cereals, oatmeal or yogurt for breakfast or used as a tasty topping for salads or casseroles for lunch and dinner. It can even be used in place of eggs in recipes such as meatloaf and hamburgers, or as a coating on kid-friendly chicken nuggets.

These great products from Carrington Farms are available in major grocery and health food retailers including select Whole Foods Markets, Costco, Giant/Stop and Shop, Publix, Kroger, Meijer’s and many more. Suggested Retail: $7.99 for 12 oz. pouch Flax Chia Blend. $6.99 for 12 pack Ready-To-Eat Organic Milled Flax Paks.

About Carrington Farms
For over a decade, Carrington Farms has been providing health-conscious consumers with healthy yet delicious products. The company is committed to offering the freshest and best-tasting organic flax seed that nature has grown. To that end, each batch of flax seed that goes into the Carrington product line is stringently tested and guaranteed to be both 100 % organic and non-genetically modified. This rigorous quality assurance process ensures an end product that is the highest-quality, cleanest seed available. Carrington’s focus on a healthy lifestyle is summed up by its slogan: “Healthy Foods for a Healthy Soul.” For additional information on the company, please visit

Fresh from the Farm:

Farmers’ Market Vegetables and Crave Brothers Cheese

Waterloo, Wisconsin — If you love farm-fresh flavor, you’ll appreciate the difference it makes when you pair farmers’ market seasonal fruits and vegetables with Crave Brothers Farmstead Classics artisan cheeses. Crave Brothers Fresh Mozzarella, Crave Brothers sweet cream Mascarpone and Les Frères® French-style cheese are all natural choices to complement the flavor of summer favorites. Recipes from Crave Brothers Cheese bring out the best in new potatoes, spinach, mushrooms, asparagus, rhubarb, strawberries and other seasonal produce. Les Frères® Pizza with fresh asparagus and mushrooms, Spinach and Artichoke Mashed Potatoes, and Mascarpone-Filled Strawberries are just a few of the summery ideas you’ll find on the Crave Brothers website at

Rich cheese texture and flavor give a big boost to the recipe for Spinach and Artichoke Mashed Potatoes. Mashed Yukon Gold potatoes, chopped spinach and chopped artichoke hearts are combined with Crave Brothers Fresh Mozzarella, Crave Brothers Mascarpone and Crave Brothers Les Frères® cheeses for the ultimate mashed potato experience. Spinach and Artichoke Mashed Potatoes are the perfect complement for summertime grilled steak dinners.

Summer cooking is all about convenience and spending as little time in the kitchen as possible. That’s why the Les Frères® Pizza is a ten-minute wonder. Its savory flavors combine sautéed sliced mushrooms, roasted asparagus spears and thin slices of Crave Brothers Farmstead Classics Les Frères® arranged on a pre-baked pizza crust and baked for ten minutes. You can even make it on the grill. For dessert, Mascarpone-Filled Strawberries are a simple summertime sensation, filled with a mixture of fresh Crave Brothers Mascarpone, cream, sugar and vanilla. Just slice off the stems, remove strawberry cores, and cut a little off the non-stem end of each berry so it will stand upright, then fill with the Mascarpone mixture.

Crave Brothers Farmstead Classics are produced using 100% green power at a family-owned farmstead cheese facility that practices water conservation and recycling. And just as you are supporting local growers when you buy produce at farmers’ markets, choosing Crave Brothers award-winning artisan cheeses is a way of supporting family farms.

To learn more about Crave Brothers Farmstead Classics visit the website at In addition to details about Crave Brothers Cheese, you’ll also find more cheese-rich summer recipes, including Chilled Raspberry Soup with Lemon Mascarpone Sorbet.

Healthy Initiative:

Transforming The Nation’s Health One City At A Time

Chicago, IL - Shea Vaughn is a sought after corporate trainer in health, wellness and fitness. She is an author, speaker, life coach and a recognized spokeswoman for creating individual and business well-being. In addition, she is the well-known creator of SheaNetics®, a revolutionary wellness and exercise lifestyle practice, and the founder of Healthy Initiative – a non-profit organization that through donations and volunteer contributions champions disease prevention in the U.S. through awareness, education and sustainable solutions.

The visionary behind Healthy Initiative, Shea has devoted her life to helping people break old, negative habits and replace them with healthier choices for a more joyful way of life. While we do hear that lifestyle-related diseases are costing taxpayers billions of dollars each year, we don’t always hear about the staggering personal cost. Adults are dying prematurely and for the first time in history parents will be burying their children – the tragedy of this trend is that it is largely preventable.

Beginning in Chicago, The Healthy Initiative Foundation, a 501(c) (3) non-profit corporation, is a nationwide effort that advocates disease prevention. Their mission is to defeat obesity, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, certain cancers and other lifestyle diseases in children and adults, and they do this by promoting ideas and distributing knowledge and information on wellness, diet, nutrition, fitness and mental and emotional strength. They welcome like-minded organizations for partnering opportunities and Shea believes that with the support of concerned individuals, civic leaders, businesses and medical and wellness professionals, this fight can be won!

To raise awareness, the Foundation is following the success of Vaughn's own SheaNetics® inspired "Breakthrough" program—which made its mark on the airwaves of ABC’s Windy City LIVE—likewise the first 40 participants in the Healthy Initiative’s signature 90-Day Breakthrough Program will experience her "Breakthrough,” gaining the necessary tools to embrace a healthier lifestyle and hopefully go on to become tomorrow’s community ambassadors for this beneficial cause. This is the only program of its kind to be conducted in conjunction with the Adler School of Psychology of Chicago, GH Training and DexaFit to produce a complete range of supplemental qualitative and quantitative data useful to understand and sustain personal levels of achievement.

With a passion that goes beyond the limits of possibilities, and fueled by an endless positive attitude, Shea and her team of experts inspire others and deliver results by helping to provide an exceptionally healthy Mind, Body and Heart experience to the wellness community they serve.

SheaNetics® is a doctor-endorsed East meets West lifestyle practice, supported by Shea’s 5 Living Principles of Well-Being; Commitment, Perseverance, Self-Control, Integrity and Love, as outlined in her book, Breakthrough – The Five Living Principles to Defeat Stress, Look Great and Find Total Well Being (HCI). While SheaNetics® provides the dynamic, multi-age appropriate combination of body resistance exercises that build exceptional body and core strength and muscle and joint flexibility, it is the Living Principles in Breakthrough that best describe the mental and emotional sides of SheaNetics® and the inspiration and answers to living life on your terms and living it well.

An international speaker, Shea has been featured on numerous TV programs, including Ellen and The Marilyn Dennis Show. As a health and fitness expert, she appears regularly on Windy City LIVE and The Best Ever You Network. For more information on Shea or Healthy Initiative, please visit: /

Food, Glorious Food!

A.L. Yergeau

This past March 2013 was the first time ever I attended the International Seafood Show at the Convention Center in Boston, MA. Incredible! Just incredible! At every turn of the aisle there was something new and different to see, smell and taste.

Grand seafood industries from Asia, Europe, the United States and our neighbor to the north, Canada, graced the pathways winding through the enormous halls. Open Blue was one of the most remarkable and impressive seafood companies I spoke with. They are genuinely committed to supplying the freshest, healthiest fish to the consumer. Their open ocean aquaculture technology is a step above the rest, constantly preserving the environment, respecting the fish and the sea. Visit their website at to read up on all they do.

The second seafood industry I was immensely impressed with was the Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance – the national association that speaks for Canada’s seafood farmers. They are a passionate advocate for the quality and sustainability of farmed seafood. This alliance stands head and shoulders above the rest. Take some time to visit and read more about them at

While one area of the convention room was devoted to seafood, another was devoted to the rest of the food groups! -- from breads and pastries to soups and salads to chicken and beef, followed by desserts and candies, and the ever-present coffee and tea. Commerce from around New England and New York were well-represented.

Oops! Red Light! The aroma of the homemade bread baked by the Piantedosi Baking Company out of Malden, MA, lured me in, hook, line and sinker. This company, founded in 1916 and turning 100 in three years, is one where quality is indeed tradition. They have been family owned and operated for four generations, using only the finest and highest quality ingredients available. This, I can attest to as I shall be profiling them in another article devoted exclusively to Piantedosi! Take a peek at them at

Another business I was struck on was Italiamport Inc. also located in Malden, MA. They are a direct importer of fine Italian food products. They are extraordinarily personable and knowledgeable. Check them out at They are the second of the two trades in Malden, MA, I shall profile in-depth this year.

The third firm whose food was positively tasty was Carmelina Brands. They are nothing short of simple goodness – delicious and flavorful. Their all-natural, preservative-free, and low sodium products are imported from Italy. Find out more about their superb, outstanding products at

A young man named, currently a senior in high school, was there to display and discuss his business venture. As a school project he made pretzels. Now they are known as Distler’s Pretzels With A Kick. There are currently five flavors available in 2-oz and 9-oz bags. Check them out at

Now for a little refreshment. Aaaaahhhhh Jim’s Organic Coffee, from Wareham, MA, was brewin’ for all to try. They have been a principal participant in providing excellent organic coffees for over 15 years. They are dedicated to quality, preserving and promoting the ecology of their land with environmental excellence at farm level. At you can learn much more about them.

Let’s face it – there was so much to see and know – I could have literally written a book in order to share everything about all the businesses represented at this fabulous show. The entire show was enlightening. I thank everyone who gave me their time, who engaged me in conversation, as a hectic and demanding crowd stirred around us. People were more than willing to share their knowledge and know-how. I look forward to seeing them next year and learning how much their businesses have grown. Until then . .

Cinnamon shown to reduce blood sugar levels after eating

Adding cinnamon to hot farina cereal was shown to significantly reduce blood glucose levels in healthy normal-weight and obese adults in a recent study published in Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Researchers at Ball State University found that the addition of 6 grams of cinnamon (about 2.5 teaspoons) to the cereal reduced blood glucose concentration by 24 percent during a two-hour period after eating.

In this randomized, crossover study, 30 men and women, ages 18-30 years, were given one of two test meals: plain hot cereal or hot cereal with cinnamon. Participants were tested two times, receiving each breakfast once. Blood samples were taken seven times over a two-hour period after the start of the meal. The addition of cinnamon to the cereal helped to flatten the glycemic response and reduce fluctuations in blood glucose in both the normal weight and obese study participants during the time following the meal.

Critical questions for future research, the authors wrote, are whether the reduction of blood glucose is maintained with long-term cinnamon supplementation and, if so, whether the reduction can delay or prevent the development of type 2 diabetes. They conclude that cinnamon “may offer nutrition and dietetics practitioners and their clients a unique botanical-based preventive approach to modify blood glucose.”

Please refer to the study for more details.

Source: Magistreilli A, Chezem JC. Effect of ground cinnamon on postprandial blood glucose concentration in normal-weight and obese adults. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 2012:112;1806-1809.

The sweet, warm flavor of cinnamon is a tasty addition to oatmeal and other hot cereals. You can find additional simple and delicious ways to add cinnamon and other spices to meals and snacks throughout the day at

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