Thursday, 4:30 PM
Coakley addresses health care, stem cells -- avoids Big Dig
By Andrew Ryan, Globe Staff
Martha Coakley outlined her plans today as the new attorney general, promising to streamline the office, promoting the launch of a new unit to implement the state's universal health care law, and vowing to review stem cell research restrictions enacted during the Romney administration.
Coakley, speaking to the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, also mentioned the largest issue facing her office: The fatal ceiling collapse of a Big Dig tunnel last July.
"We are continuing to work vigorously on resolution of the criminal and civil issues," said Coakley, who declined to discuss the Big Dig case in detail, according to a copy of her prepared remarks provided by her staff. She spoke at the Boston Park Plaza Hotel.
The attorney general said that she has created a new Chief Information Officer to upgrade technology in the office and has been reviewing the efficiency and function of staff positions during her transition.
The attorney general's new Health Care Division will work closely with the Connector Board to implement the state's new health care law and will address medical privacy issues, nursing home and long-term care problems, and spearhead advocacy at the state and federal level, Coakley said.
She then took aim at former Governor Mitt Romney, saying that stem cell research and other biotechnology initiatives should be "encouraged and not discouraged."
"We plan to take a very close look at regulations developed by the Romney administration last summer that raise serious concerns," Coakley said.
In August, state regulators appointed by Romney adopted rules for stem cell research that major hospitals and research centers feared could subject scientists to criminal penalties for certain research activities.
As a footnote, Coakley joked about how often she is asked what it is like to be first female Attorney General.
"I am not re-doing the 20th floor of One Ashburton Place in pink," Coakley said, referring the location of her new office. Being a woman, she said, will be "just another factor that will help me do this job well."