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Legislative Affairs
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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

Please note that bills for this legislative session will be filed between January 2 and January 18.  Once they have been given docket numbers, we’ll update the information to include bill numbers.

 

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

4/5/2019
Adding Teletherapy to Your Practice: Setting it Up, Managing Risk, and Working with Insurance (6CE)

5/14/2019
Increasing Your Clients' Resilience & Self-Regulation with Heart Rate Variability Biofeedback (6CE)

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