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Elizabeth Cooney is a health reporter for the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.
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Monday, April 2, 2007

Renewed push underway for flu pandemic money

By Stephen Smith, Globe Staff

A proposal to spend $36.5 million to prepare the state for a long-feared global epidemic of influenza is back before Massachusetts lawmakers, three months after they failed to act on the measure.

The money would be used in large part to buy breathing machines, hospital beds, and caches of flu medication. The legislation, sponsored by Senator Richard T. Moore, resembles a pandemic plan originally championed in February 2006 by then-Governor Mitt Romney.

Moore, an Uxbridge Democrat who is chairman of the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing, also calls in his legislation for spending money to improve the state laboratory, enhance disease tracking systems, and strengthen the ability of local health departments to deal with major health emergencies.

A hearing on the proposal is expected this week.

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