STANDARD-TIMES EDITORIAL BOARD ENDORSEMENT | October 25, 2018
Four years ago, Maura Healey said she wanted to be “the people’s lawyer” and she has been all of that.
An activist attorney general, Healey has been a vocal advocate for consumers, workers and those in need of civil rights protections. She has gone after the Trump administration as it has tried systematically to dismantle government health, education and environmental programs that have been the great hallmarks of American and Massachusetts society over the last half century.
Healey points out that her office is not just an expensive government-run program. In fact, it brought back over $800 million last year over a variety of divisions that govern the laws protecting consumers, ratepayers, workers, businesspeople and taxpayers.
“For every dollar spent on my office, we’re bringing back $17 for the state,” she told The Standard-Times editorial board.
Medicaid fraud, unfair ratepayer utility bills, wage theft, predatory student and loan lenders. Those are just a few of the areas where Healey has worked to broaden consumer protections. In her Community Engagement Division, she has gone out to civic and social groups educating people about the protections the state laws provide and how to exercise their rights on everything from health care insurers to used car dealers. F&R Auto in Westport is one of the unscrupulous businesses she went after.
Healey says her highest priority has been the opioid epidemic that has brought upheaval to so many local lives and her record demonstrates that.
She set up a Narcan fund to make the overdose antidote more available to emergency providers; she did that by going after manufacturers and convincing them to lower the dose cost. She set up a fentanyl strike force and won $1 million in federal funds to fund the local police her office teamed with on drug trafficking cases. She secured first-of-their-kind agreements with pharmacy chains on legislation reforming prescribing and dispensing practices. Her office has gone after “pill mills,” including doctors who were charging Medicaid recipients cash for suboxone.
Healey is also recommending the state do more to honor its commitment to provide the mental health services that opioid patients often need to make progress over time at in-patient facilities
On the regulatory front, Healey has worked on laws that will govern the burgeoning offshore wind industry and she is monitoring New York state’s plans to locate some of its wind turbine farms in prime scalloping areas fished by New Bedford scallopers.
Healey’s office also worked on the criminal justice reform bill passed by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Baker that has made the court and penal justice systems more efficient, concentrating resources on serious and violent crimes.
Healey defends her lawsuits against President Trump, noting his administration’s threats against quality health care funding, environmental protections, student borrowers and immigrant communities.
One area where SouthCoast is carefully watching Healey is the fate of her June call for the Executive Office of Public Safety to order an in-depth investigation of the suicide rate at Bristol County House of Correction over the last 10 years.
“I would like to see a response from the Baker administration,” she told The Standard-Times.
Asked how long she would wait before acting herself, Healey said only that she is disappointed DOC hasn’t yet acted and that she will reserve the right to take whatever action is appropriate.
We hope she will say more about that in the near future.
Overall, Healey has been an active and watchful attorney general, engaged in the issues of the day and fighting for what she sees as the citizens’ best interest. Agree or disagree with her positions on the issues, she is the kind of public official who is fully engaged, takes a stand, and tries to make life better for the residents of Massachusetts.
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