Talking Points

Talking Points

Health care pulled, real estate startup raises $50 million, and more

Speaker Paul Ryan.
Speaker Paul Ryan.

Wow, what a wild ending to a tumultuous week. House Republicans just pulled their health care bill (see below), and investors aren’t sure what to make of the news (and the implications for Trump’s plan to cut taxes). Here’s the latest for Friday, March 24.

Chesto Means Business

State partners with business: State officials spend millions of dollars each year to combat the opioid epidemic. Now, the private sector is stepping up, led by big players Partners HealthCare and General Electric. 

Governor Charlie Baker, Attorney General Maura Healey, and Mayor Marty Walsh are expected to headline an event on Tuesday to highlight a new business-backed initiative that would address the state’s long-term addiction and treatment problems. The Baker administration has been quietly working with Partners for months on this, but neither side seemed ready to talk about the details this week.

What is clear is that Partners and GE will be among the first contributors. Fighting opioid addiction is an important issue for both organizations. It’s also one of Baker’s biggest priorities  – the administration has put more treatment beds online, for example, and distributed numerous Narcan rescue kits.


Partners and GE have smart reasons to be on Baker’s good side. Partners faces constant scrutiny for the prices it charges, and Baker’s state budget proposal would  impose price caps for the state’s most expensive tier of hospitals. GE, meanwhile, is the new kid in town and wants to make a good impression. A quasi-public state agency also happens to be  GE’s development partner on its new headquarters project.

Get Today's Headlines in your inbox:
The day's top stories delivered every morning.
Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

But executives at both organizations know that fighting addiction is about much more than politics. With opioid-related overdoses in Massachusetts far exceeding the national average, this is a crisis that can undermine their employees’ families and their communities. The toll is adding up, in more ways than one.

Jon Chesto is a Globe reporter. Reach him and follow him on Twitter @jonchesto.

Executive summary

Reps revolt: House GOP leaders pulled legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act from a scheduled vote Friday afternoon because they could not win over enough right-wing members without losing more moderate lawmakers. The New York Times called the canceled voted "a staggering blow to President Donald Trump."

From the Times: Mr. Trump, in a telephone interview moments after the bill was pulled, blamed Democrats and predicted that they would seek a deal within a year after, he asserted, “Obamacare explodes” because of higher premiums. The president said he did not fault Mr. Ryan and said that he was pleased to move past his first legislative fight. He maintained that he was merely going along with the House bill.

The House canceled an expected vote on the bill Thursday, and then Trump demanded a vote Friday, though little appeared to change in terms of votes.


How did the Republicans get to this point? Here’s a rundown of the American Health Care Act and what went wrong.

It's still not clear what the president and House Speaker Paul Ryan will do next.

Starry-eyed: Those fancy schmancy global positioning devices you have in your car and boats weren’t always available at your fingertips.

But navigation, using the stars, has been around for a long time, and Ridge White is looking to keep them around even longer with his sextant repair business in Medfield. White comes from a long line of tinkerers and also fixes barographs, barometers, and other weather instruments.

Among the sextants he is working on in his shop are 12 of the instruments from the US Coast Guard tall ship, Eagle. The instruments are being refurbished for use on board the ship.


Some real innovation: A Boston-based real estate startup just raised $50 million, bringing its total investment up to $100 million.

From Xconomy Boston: Placester, the fast-growing real estate software company, received the latest round of funding from New Enterprise Associates. The new money will be used in product development aimed at making Placester the “go-to software provider for real estate agents.”

Products include software that handles “web site building, marketing automation, data analytics, open house management, and customer satisfaction surveys.”

Healthy addition: There’s a new person at the helm of the graduate school connected to Massachusetts General Hospital.

From the Boston Business Journal: Paula Milone-Nuzzo has been chosen to replace Janis Bellack, who is retiring after 10 years at the school.

Milone-Nuzzo comes to the graduate school having served as dean and professor of the College of Nursing at Penn State. She comes to a school that is growing. In the last decade, the student population has nearly doubled.​

Trending pick

This bear's repeating: Some sweet news from the candy world as Haribo, a German candy maker famous for its gummy bears, is opening a factory in the US . Haribo has purchased property in Wisconsin and plans to begin making candy there in 2020.

Line Items

Before deal, there was a buyout offer:
Concert didn't want to sell everything to Vertex -- Boston Business Journal

They're on to tax cuts:
Markets look beyond health care bill -- Bloomberg

Netflix becomes reel threat:
Growing tensions create their own Hollywood drama -- Wall Street Journal

Back to work at the office:
IBM changes its work-from-home policy -- Washington Post


Fueling a decline: Where have all the gas stations gone? 

As a story in this morning's Globe points out, they're tough to come by in the city these days.

The number of Massachusetts gas stations dropped by 12 percent between 2005 and 2014.

While increased environmental regulations are fueling some of the decline, the high price of real estate in Boston is also a driving force.

In one instance, the owner of a familiar Gulf station at the intersection of Boylston Street, Park Drive, and Brookline Avenue got $16.9 million for the half-acre property in the Fenway. It was an easy decision for the station owner given the low profit margin in selling gas.

So, keep an eye on those fuel gauges on the way into the city because you won't be able to fill 'er up until you get back to the burbs.

This Talking Points newsletter is compiled by George Brennan. Follow George on Twitter at @gpb227. If you liked what you’ve read, please tell your friends to sign up.