Massachusetts, which adopted the nation’s first pulmonary hypertension (PH) law in January, has named the first members of an expert task force dealing with PH patient care.
The PH law, signed by Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, requires the state to establish the task force to monitor and report on research, transplants, public awareness, healthcare delivery and improvements in early and accurate PH diagnosis. The task force will also develop a strategic plan with annual updates on how to improve the clinical outcome of patients with PH.
Applauding the initiative, the Pulmonary Hypertension Association (PHA) announced the panel’s inaugural members — which include medical, health insurance, pharmaceutical, advocacy, research and patient experts in PH — in a recent news release.
PHA Board member Steve White credits Frank Cann, a member of the PHA’s board of trustees, and Ernesto Bencosme, who has PH, for initiating the bill and seeing it through to the end. The Maryland-based organization expects the Massachusetts advocacy effort to be a model for other U.S. states.
Some inaugural members of the panel are David Matthew Platt, MD (Bayer); Patricia Toro, MD (Massachusetts Association of Health Plans); Thomas H. Ebert, MD (Fallon Community Health Plan), and Aaron Waxman, MD, and Laurie Lawler, RN (both of Brigham and Women’s Hospital). Other members include the state’s secretary of the executive office of health and human services, who will serve as chair; the commissioner of the department of public health; the commissioner of insurance; and the director of Medicaid.
PH results from an increase of blood pressure in the pulmonary artery, pulmonary vein or pulmonary capillaries, leading to shortness of breath, dizziness, fainting, leg swelling and other symptoms. As some of the symptoms of PH are identical to asthma, the disease is often missed, leading to delays in proper diagnosis and treatment and costing patients valuable time.
While there is currently no cure for PH, different treatment options are available to help patients in managing their disease.