The House plans to pass a bill on mental health during an official session on Thursday, said House Speaker Ronald Mariano, but the specifics of the legislation are still unclear and Mariano did not give more details during a press conference Monday afternoon.
The Chamber’s Mental Health Bill will join a growing list of important bills under consideration as the two branches enter the final two months of the 2021-2022 legislative session. Any bill in the House that deals with mental health would also clash with mental health legislation passed by the Senate last fall, and Gov. Charlie Baker’s proposal was presented this spring.
The House of Representatives convened next Wednesday for an informal session, when Mariano said the bill would be released by a committee “designed to complement the Senate plan” and create a “full mental health program for all Community citizens”.
“I think you will see a focus on a slightly different area than the Senate,” Mariano said, referring to legislation passed by the Senate in November 2021. “I think it will be released on Wednesday and you will have all details. ”
The Senate bill, which cleared the industry unanimously, requires insurance companies to cover annual mental health exams, reduce waiting times in emergency rooms for people seeking a psychiatric bed, and increase the behavioral health workforce, among other things.
The House of Representatives sent the Senate bill (S 2584) to its Roads and Funds Committee – often used as a clearing house for action plans – at the end of November 2021 and has not acted on it since.
Earlier, Mariano expressed support for the adoption of legislation in the field of mental health before the end of this 1 legislative session, saying that in March the House will act on a bill designed to reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness.
Speaking at a virtual forum organized by the State News Service and MASSterList, Mariano said the two branches should be able to combine their respective bills to create “a real overall change in the way we deal with mental health.”
Baker complements the legislative tribe with his own proposal to address mental health and primary care. The governor’s bill aims to codify practices used during the pandemic, such as telehealth, a popular service that allows Massachusetts residents to connect with medical professionals from anywhere in the state.
Baker’s bill will require providers and insurers to increase primary health care and behavioral health care costs by 30% over the next three years, oblige insurers to adhere to mental health parity standards and “provide increased flexibility for healthcare providers” , according to the governor’s office.
“The pandemic only emphasized the need to treat behavioral health services in the same way that we treat other health services, both in terms of people’s ability to access those services and, more importantly, to put them on an equal footing. how and what we pay for them, “Baker told a news conference in March.
Mariano said last Monday that his branch was preparing “perhaps a bill on violence in the workplace and a bill on phased therapy”, but did not go into further details. Asked if there were specific areas of violence in the workplace that the Chamber would address, Mariano said no.
Earlier in the day, the Massachusetts Nurses Association called for a bill that would require healthcare employers to conduct annual safety risk assessments, use the findings to implement programs to minimize the risk of workplace violence for employers. and patients and to provide rest for health care workers attacked during work to solve legal problems.
The Commission for Financing Healthcare reported the bill favorably on June 2, sending it to the Committee on Ways and Means of the Chamber. A similar version, filed in the Senate, entered the Senate Roads and Funds Committee in March after clearing the Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee.
“Nurses and health professionals are committed to the safe care of patients as they suffer from an epidemic of violence for many years,” said MNA President Katie Murphy, citing a shooting that killed four people at St. Francis Hospital in Tulsa. earlier this month. “Here in Massachusetts, we know all too well the potential for deadly health violence that has been inflicted on innocent people in Tulsa.