Search
Print Page   |   Sign In   |   Join MPA
Legislative Affairs
Share |

MPA retains a professional lobbying firm to represent the interests of consumers and providers in the Commonwealth. We track bills and regulations to be sure that interests of the citizens are represented appropriately. 
 
Advocacy Opportunity:  If you are interested in helping us support particular bills or issues and you are an MPA member, please consider joining our Advocacy Committee by contacting the co-chairs: Dr. Jim Leffert or Dr. Shoshana Fagen.
 
MPA’s advocacy focuses on issues at the state level, but we have made statements about federal issues such as mental health parity, funding for research on gun violence, the Medicare Mental Health Access Act, and travel bans for specific groups of people.  For additional information on federal advocacy issues, the American Psychological Association has a Guide to Federal Advocacy, an Advocacy Grassroots Network, a Science Advocacy Toolkit, and a general Advocacy Page with links to the different APA Initiatives. 
 
You can  find your state legislators and register to vote or update your information online.  There is also this easy guide to how a bill becomes law in Massachusetts

 

**NEW** MPA’s Legislative Agenda for the 2019 – 2020 Session

 
Massachusetts Psychological Association 2019 – 2020 Legislative Agenda
The Massachusetts Psychological Association is dedicated to improving the lives of all people in the Commonwealth through advancing psychology as a science, as a profession, and as a means of promoting human welfare.  In the 2019 – 2020 legislative session, MPA will continue to focus on: improving access to care by increasing provision of services and addressing unfair business practices; improving quality and continuity of care by addressing gaps in coverage and provision of telehealth services; and, maintaining consumer and professional protections by preserving current standards for service providers, and minimizing unreasonable liability for psychologists.
Access to Care.  The practice of health plans’ retracting payments made in good faith, sometimes years after the services were provided, dissuades psychologists and other mental health professionals from joining insurance panels.  MPA will work to limit this unfair and deceitful business practice to improve access to quality care across the Commonwealth.  MPA will work to improve access to behavioral health and substance use services by insuring that parity is implemented and members of the Commonwealth have access to a full range of assessment and treatment services   MPA will also work towards greater timely access to services for all members of the Commonwealth, including, but not limited to, those who are: economically disadvantaged; members of cultural, ethnic or racial minority groups; members of the LGBT community; and people who have disabilities. 
Quality and Continuity of Care.  Continuity of care is critical in producing high quality care and improved patient outcomes, and MPA will support legislation that promotes more effective, efficient, and comprehensive care in all treatment settings.  This effort will include legislation that addresses unfair business practices by health plans, such as disrupting patient care by requiring patients to switch providers after summarily canceling contracts with current providers.  In addition, the rise of telehealth services is promising and has the potential to increase access to care, but could have a negative impact on the quality and continuity of care if it is structured in a way that lowers standards of care and disincentivizes the practice of offering both in-person and telehealth services. 
Consumer and Professional Protections.  It is of utmost importance that members of the Commonwealth receive mental health care by well-trained and skilled professionals.  MPA will continue to oppose legislation that attempts to broaden the category of mental health service providers to allow licensed or unlicensed practice by individuals without sufficient education and training.  MPA will also work to protect psychologists by opposing, or working to amend, bills that would have the effect of creating unreasonable levels of liability.  Finally, MPA will work to ensure compliance with state and federal laws and regulations that protect consumers and ensure access to the most appropriate psychological services.
MPA’s Top 3 Priorities for this Legislative Session
1. Anti-Clawback Legislation
S.589 & H.1078, An Act relative to limits on insurers’ retroactive clawbacks for mental health and substance use disorder services. Sets a limit of 12 months on the ability of a health care plan to retract payments made in good faith (also referred to as clawbacks).  Primary sponsors: Sen. Cindy Friedman and Rep. Jim O’Day.
2. Expanded Telehealth Coverage
S.612 & H.991, An Act advancing and expanding access to telemedicine services. Requires health plans to cover the same medical, behavioral health, and substance abuse services via telehealth as they do for in-person sessions, and at the same rate as in-person sessions. Primary sponsors: Sen. Jason Lewis and Rep. Kate Hogan.
3. Ghost Networks
S.610 & H.913, An Act to increase consumer transparency about insurance provider networks. Calls for a task force to be created to develop guidelines and standardization across health plans for areas such as behavioral search categories, provider information change requests, maintenance of an accurate and up-to-date list of providers in network to make it easier for consumers to find providers, better monitor network adequacy, and eliminate “ghost networks.”  Primary sponsors: Sen. Jason Lewis and Rep. Christine Barber.
Other Legislation of Interest
MPA supports the following legislation:
S.565 and H.907, An Act relative to the continuity of care of mental health treatment.  Would require continued coverage of mental health services with an “out-of-network” provider with whom the patient already has an ongoing treatment relationship if the provider accepts the in-network payment rate.  Primary sponsors: Sen. Joanne Comerford and Reps. Ruth Balser and Tricia Farley-Bouvier.
S.1225, An Act relative to facilitating the utilization of psychologists on the health care team.  Adds psychologists to the list of providers whose written instructions nurses may follow in hospitals and other skilled nursing facilities.  Primary sponsor: Sen. Cynthia S. Creem
H.1697, An Act relative to increasing access to psychological services.  Allows MassHealth to reimburse psychologists in independent practice for psychotherapy services and appropriate supervision of clinical providers.  Primary sponsor: Rep. Ruth Balser
H. 487, An Act relative to the transparency of mental health benefits.  Allows state agencies to monitor health plan denial of service for behavioral health services and size of the provider network, and track number of patients who are unable to schedule an appointment with a behavioral health provider.  Primary sponsor: Rep. Ruth Balser
S.70 & H.140 , An Act relative to abusive practices to change sexual orientation and gender identity in minors.  Bans licensed mental health providers from the practice of conversion therapy to change the gender identity or sexual orientation of minors.  Primary sponsors: Sen. Mark Montigny and Rep. Kay Kahn

H.1723, An Act to further define medical necessity determinations. Allows licensed clinicians, in consultation with their patient, to determine medical necessity instead of each health plan creating their own medical necessity criteria. Primary sponsor: Rep. Natalie Higgins.
 

You can also view our work during the 2017 – 2018 Legislative Session


2017 – 2018 Legislative Session

 

MPA’s Legislative Agenda for the 2017-2018 Session

Click on the links to go to view the full text of the bills and it’s progression through the legislature, and to read out Legislative Updates with our written testimony.

 

Top 3 Priorities for the 2017 – 2018 Session

1.      Anti-clawback legislation (Sen. Rodrigues, Rep. O’Day): S.582 and H.2193 set a limit of 6 months on the ability of a health care plan to retroactively retract payments made in good faith (also referred to as clawbacks).  See our Legislative Update for more information. This bill was included as an amendment in both the Senate and the House health care bills, but no compromise could be found to pass a final health care bill so it was not successful.  This will again be our number one priority for the next legislative session.

2.      Telehealth Parity: There were a number of telehealth bills introduced this session, but none of them were successful.  This will continue to be a top priority for MPA in the 2019-2020 legislative session.

a.       Increased access to telemedicine for behavioral health/substance use services (Sen. Flanagan, Rep. Balser): S.1095 requires health plans to cover the same behavioral health and substance abuse services via telehealth as they do for in-person sessions, and at the same rate as in-person sessions (see our Legislative Update for more information).  This bill did not progress beyond the initial Committee review.

b.      Expanded coverage among non-profit health plans (Sen. Flanagan, Rep. Balser): S.527 and H.2156 expand the changes to laws that state that coverage of telehealth must be consistent with coverage of in-person services to non-profit health plans.  Currently it has only been applied to for-profit health plans (see our Legislative Update for more information).  This bill was included as an amendment to both the Senate and the House health care bills but they were not successful this session.

3.      Continuity of coverage (Sen. L’Italien, Rep. Balser): S.552 and  H.484 requires continued coverage of mental health services with an “out-of-network” provider with whom the patient already has an ongoing treatment relationship if the provider accepts the in-network payment rate and complies with the insurer’s reasonable administrative requirements. This bill did not progress beyond the first committee that reviewed it.

 

Other Supported Legislation

·         Protecting access to confidential healthcare information (Sen. Hogan, Rep. Spilka): S.591 and H.2960 allows consumers who are not the primary beneficiary of a health plan to be able to have explanation of benefits (EOBs), reimbursement checks, and similar communication sent to a different address than the primary beneficiary.  This bill was successful!  Governor Baker signed it into law on March 30, 2018.

·         Ban on conversion therapy for LGBTQ minors (Sen. Montigny, Rep. Kahn): S.62 and H.1190 bans licensed mental health providers from the practice of conversion therapy to change the gender identity or sexual orientation of minors (see our Legislative Update for more information).  This bill was passed by the House but time ran out in the formal legislative session before the Senate could take a vote.

·         Access to evaluations for children with disabilities (Sen. L’Italien, Rep. O’Day): S.58 and H.2866 requires state-set rates for educational evaluations to reflect actual market rates and to be adjusted regularly (every 3 years) and fairly (see our Legislative Update for more information).  This bill was not successful, but MPA participated in the review of the regulations by EOHHS, and the new regulations include the changes recommended in the legislation.

·         Accurate health plan provider directories (Sen. Flanagan, Rep. Barber):S.528 and H.2947 requires health plans to keep accurate and current provider directories and make transparent their process and criteria for creating their provider network (see our Legislative Update for more information). This bill was included as an amendment to both the Senate and the House health care bills, but no final bill could be agreed upon.  This will be our number three priority in the 2019-2020 legislative session.

·         Allowing clinicians to determine medical necessity (Sen. Flanagan, Rep. Kahn): S.1093 and H.1070 requires health plans to allow clinicians make the determination of whether a service is medically necessary for a patient, instead of health plans drafting their own criteria and definitions for each service (see our Legislative Update for more information).  A version of this bill moved forward in the Senate and similar language was included in both the Senate and the House health care bills, but none of those bills were successful.

·         Allowing nurses to follow psychologists’ written orders (Sen. Creem, Rep. Balser): S.1179 and H.2430 adds psychologists to the list of providers whose written instructions nurses may follow in hospitals and other skilled nursing facilities for issues such as adding or removing frequent safety checks and offering mental health services.  The bill was progressing through the legislature but time ran out in the formal session before it could be voted on.

·         Allowing psychologists in independent practice to provide treatment to all MassHealth clients (Rep. Balser): H.1060 allows MassHealth to reimburse psychologists in independent practice for psychotherapy services and appropriate supervision of clinical providers for members in a non-managed MassHealth plan (see our Legislative Update for more information)  This bill did not progress beyond the first committee that reviewed it.

·         Transparency of health plan practices and networks (Rep. Balser) H.487 allows state agencies to monitor health plan denial of service for behavioral health services and size of the provider network, and track number of patients who are unable to schedule an appointment with a behavioral health provider.  This bill did not progress beyond the first committee that reviewed it.

more MPA Events

12/13/2019
Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) for Children on the Autism Spectrum (3CE)

Featured Members

Online Surveys
Association Management Software Powered by YourMembership  ::  Legal