Reversing course on a new law aimed at diminishing the influence on doctors of pharmaceutical and medical device companies, the House on Wednesday voted to strike the so-called gift ban law, which critics say has hurt commerce in the medical and restaurant industries.
An amendment to preserve the ban attracted 40 votes, with 108 against. The elimination of the gift ban was included in economic development legislation that cleared the House 145-4 and now needs to be reconciled with a Senate bill in a conference committee.
Critics of the ban said it was discouraging out-of-state interests from doing business in Massachusetts and said the ban had not led to demonstrable reductions in health-care costs. Supporters of the ban said the state had already heavily invested itself in implementing it and needed to give the law more time to work itself out. Ban supporters also said other states were pursuing similar bans and predicted the law could help reduce health-care costs and ensure that the interests of patients, not drug and device makers, are the top priority for physicians.
Speaking against the ban were Reps. Garrett Bradley, Brian Dempsey and Barry Finegold. Pushing to preserve the ban were Reps. Alice Wolf, Ruth Provost, Jason Lewis and Elizabeth Malia.