Springfield, Mass., City Council Rejects Needle-Exchange Plan
The Springfield, Mass., City Council on Monday voted 8-1 to reject Mayor Michael Albano's proposal for a home-rule bill permitting the state Department of Public Health to implement a needle-exchange program in the city, the Springfield Union-News reports. Albano attempted to withdraw petition approval at the meeting to "bring forward a more fully developed proposal" at the City Council meeting on Sept. 4. He explained that he wanted to have health care professionals develop a needle-exchange program to fight the spread of HIV in the city and take the decision of implementing a program "out of the political realm." But Councilor Timothy Rooke filed an objection to the request to withdraw the petition, saying he wanted the council to vote on the proposal before an upcoming election. His action forced a roll-call vote on the issue. "It's time to stop the political folly," Rooke said, adding, "This council is now on record eight to one opposing a needle-exchange program." He said such programs contribute to the spread of disease because intravenous drug users continue to share needles (McLaughlin, Springfield Union-News, 7/17). The council rejected needle-exchange programs in 1996 and 1998, and in June the council voted 4-4 on a resolution sponsored by Rooke to oppose needle-exchange programs (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 6/7).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.