Allow Spouses to Serve as Caregivers
S.89, An Act allowing spouses to serve as caregivers
Current state policy penalizes seniors and people with disabilities who wish to use their spouse as their caregiver, despite their spouse’s ability to provide loving care at costs below that of nursing homes. My bill will reverse that policy and direct MassHealth to recognize and compensate a spouse as caregiver if requested by the patient, just as other family relatives are permitted to serve as caregivers.
Protect Mental Health Care Services
S.636, An Act providing continuity of care for mental health treatment
Mental health care is intensely personal, yet when mental health providers leave an insurer’s network, their patients can be left in a lurch in the middle of their treatment. My bill gives patients the right to continue with their mental health clinician even if their insurance network changes.
Make Insurance Work for Patients
S.637, An Act to improve the health insurance prior authorization process
Health plans routinely require patients to obtain pre-approval, also known as prior authorization, for a prescribed health service or medication as a way to control costs. Obtaining prior authorizations can be difficult for consumers and providers due to the different forms and processes each health plan uses. My bill prohibits plans from modifying or rescinding prior authorizations and requires transparency about prior authorization policies in communications to providers and consumers.
Home Care for Seniors and People with Disabilities
S.748, An Act supporting equal access to community care for elders and the disabled
Current law makes seniors and people with disabilities ineligible for home care if their income goes just a penny above the income limit, a policy often called the “cliff effect.” My bill will allow eligible people to receive MassHealth home and community-based care even if their income is over the program income limit, if they pay a premium equal to their income above the limit.
Protect Homes of Deceased MassHealth Members
S.749, An Act protecting the homes of seniors and disabled people on MassHealth
MassHealth, our Medicaid program, demands repayment after death from the estates or families of low-income people who received Medicaid health care services after age 55. Over 90 percent of these repayments come from the sale of the family home. My bill limits the estate recovery program so that repayment is only sought where it is required by the federal government, as well as strengthens advance notice requirements and expands hardship waiver criteria.
Support Dental Care at Community Health Centers
S.750, An Act improving access to dental care in the Commonwealth
Dental care is a critical component of overall health, yet the state’s dental care reimbursement to community health centers, like the Hilltown, Musante, or Greenfield Centers, is far below what it costs them to actually provide the care. My bill would mandate a modest increase in the MassHealth dental payment to community health centers.
Technical Corrections to Naturopathy Statute
S.1381, An Act relative to the board of registration in naturopathy
Naturopathy uses a variety of therapies to restore and maintain the health of their patients including clinical nutrition, botanical and homeopathic medicine, and lifestyle management. My bill makes technical corrections to the statute governing their practice.
Death with Dignity
S.1384, An Act relative to end of life options
As Senate Chair of the Public Health Committee last session, I had the opportunity to dig into the medical aid-in-dying legislation and listen deeply to Commonwealth residents. We heard harrowing stories from people whose relatives suffered during their last days, and we heard about the need to provide a voluntary medical option for terminally-ill people to control the timing and manner of their death. My bill allows someone who is terminally ill to choose a peaceful death with dignity, by requesting medication from a doctor that the person may self-administer at a time of their own choosing, should suffering become unbearable. This bill protects all patients, affords dying people autonomy and compassion during the most difficult time, and protects potentially vulnerable people from any coercion.
Fight Pancreatic Cancer
S.1385, An Act to reduce incidence and death from pancreatic cancer
Pancreatic cancer is estimated to be the second deadliest cancer in Massachusetts, by cancer type, with 990 deaths in 2019. In 2019, I served on a Special Commission to Study Pancreatic Cancer, which was created to identify areas of unmet needs in pancreatic cancer prevention, diagnosis, and treatment, as well as provide recommendations for additional legislation or support to meet these needs. My bill establishes a comprehensive pancreatic cancer initiative to provide coordinated pancreatic cancer prevention, screening, education and support programs.
Strengthen Local Public Health (SAPHE 2.0)
S.1386, An Act relative to accelerating improvements to the local and regional public health system to address disparities in the delivery of public health services
Our local public health system is the front line in protecting the public, and COVID has demonstrated just how much we rely on local health officials. Yet our fragmented and under-resourced system is inadequate to meet the needs, particularly in small towns where the board of health may be volunteer, and the state contributes no annual funding to municipalities. My bill sets statewide standards and provides funds to ensure that everyone has access to a core set of public health protections.
Health Equity at All Levels In Government (HEALING)
S.1388, An Act Establishing Health Equity at All Levels In Government
The COVID-19 pandemic has shown how inequities owed to generations of structural racism and socioeconomic inequality can mean the difference between life and death. Our health depends more on factors like housing, education, transportation, and the environment than it does on medical care. My bill centers health equity throughout government, with leadership in the Governor’s office and empowered community voices to build a culture of health equity.