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A Psychologist’s Guide to Federal Advocacy

APA’s Advocacy Page

Tips for Contacting a Legislator

MPA’s Federal Advocacy Work

o   MPA advocates for mental health parity to the Federal Task Force on Parity (September 22, 2016)

o   MPA supports the elimination of barriers to the CDC’s funding of research on gun violence (September 1, 2016)

o   Urge your legislator to support the Medicare Mental Health Access Act (February 11, 2016)

o   MPA Advocates for regulations to allow psychologists to determine necessity for inpatient substance abuse treatment (June 30, 2015)

 

2017-2018 Legislative Session

 

MPA’s Legislative Agenda for the Current Session

Find out who your state legislators are, and register to vote or update your information online

Brush up on your knowledge of the legislative process with this easy guide to how a bill becomes law in Massachusetts

Click on the bill numbers to read the full text, learn more about where it is in the legislative process, and who supports it

 

Top 3 Priorities for this Legislative Session

1.      Anti-clawback legislation

H. 2193 and S. 582, An Act to limit retroactive denials of health insurance claims for mental health and substance abuse services.

·         Primary sponsors: Rep. James O’Day (D – W. Boylston, Worcester) and Sen. Michael Rodrigues (D – Fall River, Freetown, Lakeville, Rochester, Somerset, Swansea, Westport)

·         Sets 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). 

·         Referred to the Joint Committee on Financial Services, chaired by Sen. James Eldridge (D – Acton, Ayer, Boxborough, Hudson, Littleton, Marlborough, Maynard, Shirley, Southborough, Stow, Sudbury, Westborough) and Rep. Aaron Michlewitz (D – Boston)

·         A hearing was held on May 16, 2017.  MPA Board of Director, Susan Rudman, Ed.D. and MPA member David Bullis, Ph.D. provided oral testimony in support of the bill, regarding their personal experience with clawbacks.  Jennifer Warkentin, Ph.D., MPA’s Director of Professional Affairs, submitted written testimony on behalf of MPA in support of the bill.  Stay tuned for a legislative update.

·         Waiting for the committee report on where the bill will go next

 

2.      Telehealth parity

S. 1095, An Act relative to behavioral health telemedicine.

·         Primary sponsors: Rep. Ruth Balser (D - Newton) and Sen. Jennifer Flanagan (D –Fitchburg, Gardner, Leominster)

·         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. 

·         Referred to the Joint Committee on Mental Health, Substance Use and Recovery, chaired by Sen. Jennifer Flanagan (D - Fitchburg, Gardner, Leominster) and Rep. Denise Garlick (D – Dover, Medfield, Needham).

·         Hearing was held on June 5, 2017- stay tuned for a legislative update

·         Waiting for the committee report on where the bill will go next

 

H. 2156 and S. 527, An Act relative to telemedicine.

·         Primary sponsors: Rep. Ruth Balser (D - Newton) and Sen. Jennifer Flanagan (D - Fitchburg, Gardner, Leominster)

·         Expands the changes to Chapter 175 of the General Laws, which stated that coverage of telehealth must be consistent with coverage of in-person, to Chapter 176B, which regulates non-profit health plans. 

·         Referred to the Joint Committee on Financial Services, chaired by Sen. James Eldridge (D – Acton, Ayer, Boxborough, Hudson, Littleton, Marlborough, Maynard, Shirley, Southborough, Stow, Sudbury, Westborough) and Rep. Aaron Michlewitz (D – Boston)

·         Waiting for the committee to schedule a public hearing

 

3.      Continuity of coverage

            H. 484 and S. 552, An Act relative to the continuity of care of mental health treatment.

·         Primary sponsors: Rep. Ruth Balser (D- Newton) and Sen. Barbara L’Italien (D – Andover, Dracut, Lawrence, Tewksbury)

·         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.

·         Referred to the Joint Committee on Financial Services, chaired by Sen. James Eldridge (D - Acton, Ayer, Boxborough, Hudson, Littleton, Marlborough, Maynard, Shirley, Southborough, Stow, Sudbury, Westborough) and Rep. Aaron Michlewitz (D – Boston)

·         Waiting for the committee to schedule a public hearing

 

Other Legislation of Interest:

H. 2430 and S. 1179, An Act relative to facilitating the utilization of psychologists on the health care team.

·         Primary sponsors: Rep. Ruth Balser (D- Newton) and Sen. Cynthia Creem (D – Brookline, Newton, Wellesley)

·         Adds psychologists to the list of providers whose written instructions nurses may follow in hospitals and other skilled nursing facilities.

·         Referred to the Joint Committee on Public Health, chaired by Sen. Jason Lewis (D – Malden, Melrose, Reading, Stoneham, Wakefield, Winchester) and Rep. Kate Hogan (D – Bolton, Hudson, Maynard, Stow)

·         Waiting for the committee to schedule a public hearing

 

H. 1060, An Act relative to increasing access to psychological services.

·         Primary sponsor: Rep. Ruth Balser (D- Newton)

·         Allows MassHealth to reimburse psychologists in independent practice for psychotherapy services and appropriate supervision of clinical providers. 

·         Referred to the Joint Committee on Mental Health, Substance Use and Recovery, chaired by Sen. Jennifer Flanagan (D - Fitchburg, Gardner, Leominster) and Rep. Denise Garlick (D - Dover, Medfield, Needham)

·         Hearing was held on June 19, 2017.  Jennifer Warkentin, Ph.D., MPA’s Director of Professional Affairs, submitted both oral and written testimony in support of the bill.  Stay tuned for a legislative update on this bill.

·         Waiting for the committee report on where the bill will go next

 

H. 2866 and S. 58, An Act to provide equal access to evaluations for children with disabilities.

·         Primary sponsors: Rep. James O’Day (D - W. Boylston, Worcester) and Sen. Barbara L’Italien (D – Andover, Dracut, Lawrence, Tewksbury)

·         Requires state-set rates for educational evaluations to reflect actual market rates and to be adjusted regularly and fairly. 

·         Referred to the Joint Committee on Education, chaired by Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz (D – Boston) and Rep. Alice Hanlon Peisch (D – Wayland, Wellesley, Weston)

·         Waiting for the committee to schedule a public hearing

 

H. 2947 and S. 528, An Act to increase consumer transparency about insurance provider networks.

·         Primary sponsors: Rep. Christine Barber (D- Medford, Somerville) and Sen. Jennifer Flanagan (D - Fitchburg, Gardner, Leominster)

·         Requires health plans to keep accurate and current provider directories and make transparent their process and criteria for creating their provider network.

·         Referred to the Joint Committee on Financial Services, chaired by Sen. James Eldridge (D – Acton, Ayer, Boxborough, Hudson, Littleton, Marlborough, Maynard, Shirley, Southborough, Stow, Sudbury, Westborough) and Rep. Aaron Michlewitz (D – Boston)

·         Hearing was held on May 16, 2017.  Jennifer Warkentin, Ph.D., MPA’s Director of Professional Affairs, provided both oral and written testimony in support of the bill.  Stay tuned for a legislative update on this bill.

·         Waiting for the committee report on where the bill will go next

 

H. 1070 and S. 1093, An Act to further define medical necessity determinations.

·         Primary sponsors: Rep. Kay Kahn (D- Newton) and Sen. Jennifer Flanagan (D - Fitchburg, Gardner, Leominster)

·         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.

·         Referred to the Joint Committee on Mental Health, Substance Use and Recovery, chaired by Sen. Jennifer Flanagan (D - Fitchburg, Gardner, Leominster) and Rep. Denise Garlick (D - Dover, Medfield, Needham)

·         Hearing was held on June 5, 2017 and Brian Doherty, MPA’s Executive Director, provided both oral and written testimony in support of the bill.  Stay tuned for a legislative update on this bill.

·         Waiting for the committee report on where the bill will go next

 

H. 487, An Act relative to the transparency of mental health benefits.

·         Primary sponsor: Rep. Ruth Balser (D- Newton)

·         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

·         Referred to the Joint Committee on Financial Services, chaired by Sen. James Eldridge (D – Acton, Ayer, Boxborough, Hudson, Littleton, Marlborough, Maynard, Shirley, Southborough, Stow, Sudbury, Westborough) and Rep. Aaron Michlewitz (D – Boston)

·         Waiting for the committee to schedule a public hearing

 

H. 2960 and S. 591, An Act to protect access to confidential healthcare.

·         Primary sponsors: Rep. Karen Spilka (D- Ashland, Framingham, Franklin, Holliston, Hopkinton, Medway, Natick) and Sen. Kate Hogan (D- Bolton, Hudson, Maynard, Stow)

·         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.

·         Referred to the Joint Committee on Financial Services, chaired by Sen. James Eldridge (D – Acton, Ayer, Boxborough, Hudson, Littleton, Marlborough, Maynard, Shirley, Southborough, Stow, Sudbury, Westborough) and Rep. Aaron Michlewitz (D – Boston)

·         Hearing was held on May 16, 2017.  Waiting for the committee report on where the bill will go next.

 

H. 1190 and S. 62, An Act relative to abusive practices to change sexual orientation, and gender identity in minors.

·         Primary sponsors: Sen. Mark Montigny (D – Acushnet, Dartmouth, Fairhaven, Mattapoisett, New Bedford) and Rep. Kay Kahn (D- Newton)

·         Bans licensed mental health providers from the practice of conversion therapy to change the gender identity or sexual orientation of minors.

·         Referred to the Joint Committee on Children, Families, and Persons with Disabilities, chaired by Sen. Jennifer Flanagan (D - Fitchburg, Gardner, Leominster) and Rep. Kay Kahn (D- Newton)

·         Waiting for the committee to schedule a public hearing


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