Accessible Home Care for Seniors and People with Disabilities
An Act supporting equal access to community care for elders and the disabled
Providing care to people in their homes and communities reduces strain on our nursing homes and allows people to receive care where they are most comfortable. But 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 allows 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.
» Community Care (S.727) Fact Sheet from MassNAELA and MassPACE
Allow Spouses to Serve as Caregivers
An Act allowing spouses to serve as caregivers
Current state policy penalizes seniors and people with disabilities who wish to employ their spouse as their caregiver. My bill reverses that policy and directs MassHealth to recognize and compensate spouses as caregivers if requested by the patient – just as other relatives are already permitted to serve as paid caregivers.
Death with Dignity
An Act relative to end of life options
As Senate Chair of the Public Health Committee for four years, I had the opportunity to thoroughly research medical aid-in-dying and listen deeply to Commonwealth residents. The Committee heard harrowing stories from people whose relatives suffered during their last days and 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 dignified, peaceful death by requesting medication from a doctor that may be self-administered at a time of their own choosing, should suffering become unbearable. This bill safeguards patients and medical professionals, affords dying people autonomy and compassion during the most difficult time, and protects potentially vulnerable people from coercion.
» End of Life Options (S.1331) Fact Sheet from End of Life Options Massachusetts
Disclose Menstrual Product Ingredients
An Act relative to menstrual product ingredient disclosure
Menstrual products are used by millions of people in the Commonwealth, with the average menstruating person using nearly ten thousand of these products over their lifetime. There is growing concern about chemical exposure from certain components and additives in menstrual products. Current federal Food and Drug Administration guidelines do not require manufacturers of menstrual products to disclose their ingredients, limiting the ability of researchers to understand such exposure and the ability of consumers to make informed choices. My bill requires ingredient disclosure on any menstrual product sold within the Commonwealth.
Ensure Full Coverage for Infectious Disease Care
An Act to strengthen the control of contagious or infectious diseases in the Commonwealth
The COVID pandemic taught us that quick, effective action is critical to preventing the spread of infectious disease. Patients should be able to quickly get care for infectious diseases without insurance company prior authorization paperwork or added deductible or copay costs. My bill provides that when the Department of Public Health designates a contagious disease as being of heightened public health importance, insurers cannot charge cost-sharing payments like copays or deductibles and cannot require patients to obtain pre-approval, also known as prior authorization, to get the care they need.
Expand Access to Birth Centers
An Act updating the regulations governing licensed birth centers in Massachusetts
Birth centers are a homelike setting providing skilled midwifery care for low risk pregnancies. There are 400 such birth centers across the United States, but recent closures of hospital-affiliated birth centers in Massachusetts have reduced the already limited access to this birth option for families here. Currently, Massachusetts has just one birth center operating, even though birth centers are a proven model for improving birth outcomes while reducing health care costs. My bill directs the Department of Public Health to promulgate updated regulations that are consistent with the licensed practice of midwives and physicians and national standards to maximize safety and expand access to birth options. This approach is consistent with the recent reports from the Commission on Racial Inequities in Maternal Health and the Health Policy Commission which highlighted the benefits of birth centers and recommended addressing regulatory barriers to scaling up birth centers.
» Birth Centers (S.1355) Fact Sheet from Bay State Birth Coalition
Fight Pancreatic Cancer
An Act to reduce incidence and death from pancreatic cancer
Pancreatic cancer is the second deadliest type of cancer in Massachusetts, with 1,110 estimated deaths in 2022. 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 to provide recommendations for additional legislation or support to meet these needs. My bill establishes a comprehensive pancreatic cancer initiative within the Department of Public Health to provide coordinated pancreatic cancer prevention, screening, education, and support programs.
Meet Demand for Certified Nurses’ Aides
An Act expanding access to the certified nurses’ aides certification process
Massachusetts is facing an extreme shortage of healthcare workers in the wake of the COVID pandemic. Although we need more certified nursing assistants, our system for testing and licensing certified nurses’ aides (CNAs) has been a barrier to addressing this labor shortage, particularly when it comes to licensing immigrants who face language barriers in passing the test. We have immigrants in western Massachusetts who want to work as CNAs – and nursing homes that want to hire them – the only barrier is the testing process. My bill directs the Department of Public Health to provide testing in multiple languages to Certified Nurses’ Aides applicants, allowing them the opportunity to join and strengthen the healthcare workforce as licensed professionals and providing more opportunities for patients to be served by CNAs who speak their native language.
Protect Homes of Deceased MassHealth Members
An Act protecting the homes of seniors and disabled people on MassHealth
MassHealth, the state’s 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 to MassHealth 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. This bill also strengthens advance notice requirements and expands hardship waiver criteria.
» Estate Recovery (S.726) Fact Sheet from MassNAELA, MLRI, and DPC
Protect Patients’ Bodily Integrity
An Act prohibiting nonconsensual intimate examinations of anesthetized or unconscious patients
There is growing concern regarding the practice of performing pelvic and other intimate exams on unconscious patients without the patients’ consent. My bill prohibits doctors, medical students, and other health care providers from performing intimate pelvic, prostate, or rectal exams on an anesthetized or unconscious patient without first obtaining written informed consent, unless the exam is required for the patient’s care.
Protect Patients and Operating Room Staff from Toxic “Surgical Smoke”
An Act protecting patients and health care workers from exposure to surgical smoke
“Surgical smoke” is the term for the vapor produced by the destruction of tissue by lasers or electrosurgical devices during surgery. The surgical smoke can contain toxic gasses and vapors such as benzene, hydrogen cyanide, and formaldehyde, as well as dead and live material, including blood tissue particles, bacteria, and viruses. It’s a serious risk to nurses, surgeons, and other operating room personnel who inhale the contaminates. My bill requires all hospitals and freestanding ambulatory surgical facilities to use smoke evacuation systems to protect against exposure to these toxic contaminants and plumes.
» Surgical Smoke (S.1332) Fact Sheet from the Massachusetts Nurses Association
» Surgical Smoke (S.1332) FAQs from the Massachusetts Nurses Association
Reducing Barriers to Gender-Affirming Care
An Act relative to trans-inclusive health care access
Gender-affirming care is health care. Yet right now, insurance coverage for gender-affirming care services are subject to additional prior authorization requirements that create barriers to patients who are trying to access this care. My bill requires insurance companies to cover gender-affirming care upon receipt of one letter from a qualified mental health professional, aligning state law with the accepted World Professional Association for Transgender Health standard and reducing unnecessary administrative burdens on individuals seeking this care.
Reduce Youth Suicide
An Act supporting student mental health
The state’s 2019 Youth Risk Behavior Survey found that 17.5 percent of high school students seriously considered suicide during the previous year, with 14.8 percent making a plan and 7.3 percent attempting suicide. For middle school students, 11.3 percent seriously considered suicide and 5 percent attempted suicide. My bill directs that newly printed school ID cards for public school students in grades 7-12 and students in public colleges and universities include the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. The 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline directs all callers to trained call takers who are available to provide free, confidential emotional support.
Local and regional public health officials are on the front line of protecting the public, yet they work within a fragmented and under-resourced system. My bill sets statewide practice and training standards and provides funds to ensure that everyone in the Commonwealth has access to a core set of public health protections.
» Local Public Health (S.1334) Fact Sheet from the Massachusetts Public Health Association
Support New Parents and Families
An Act to support families
Under current Massachusetts law, the birth of a substance-exposed newborn child triggers an automatic obligation for health care providers to report the birthing parent for suspected abuse or neglect. This is required even if the pregnant individual was taking prescribed medication for addiction treatment. By conflating prenatal substance exposure with child abuse, these reports stigmatize people receiving medically-recommended treatment and harm the birthing parent and child. My bill updates the law to center the best interests of the child. Providers would no longer be required to file reports automatically by the singular fact of prenatal substance exposure.
» Supporting Families (S.64) Fact Sheet from Boston Medical Center
Use Current Science and Protect Public Health in Mosquito Management
An Act establishing an ecologically-based mosquito management program in the Commonwealth to protect public health
Our current mosquito management system, based on a statute enacted in 1918, is woefully out of date. The structure is fragmented, does not reflect current scientific understandings, and provides no opportunity for public input. The system looks to widespread pesticide spraying as the primary response to mosquito-related concerns. My bill creates a state mosquito management plan that prioritizes education, monitoring, and habitat modification and allows pesticide use only for disease control. The bill prohibits aerial spraying of pesticides and completely bans the use of chemicals containing PFAS. The bill also allows residents to opt out of spraying, with beekeepers and organic farmers opted-out by default.
» Mosquito Management (S.445) Fact Sheet from the MASSQuito Coalition