Senate Unveils Mental Health ABC Act: Addressing Barriers to Care

BOSTON – On February 6, the Massachusetts Senate unveiled An Act Addressing Barriers to Care for Mental Health, comprehensive legislation aimed at providing a framework for reforming mental health care in Massachusetts. The Mental Health ABC Act removes barriers to timely quality care, provides the state with more effective tools to enforce existing mental health parity laws, and invests in the mental and behavioral health workforce pipeline. This legislation reflects the Senate’s overall goal of improving mental health care for all – a personal priority for Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) who served as one of the chief architects of the bill.

“For far too long, mental health has been a forgotten component of our healthcare system despite our statutory parity mandate that calls for equitable coverage between medical and surgical treatment and mental health treatment,” said Senator Friedman, co-chair of the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing. “This bill serves as a first step forward in addressing the persisting inequities in our delivery of mental health services that keep patients from accessing the care they need, and will provide a framework for the state to better enforce our mental health parity laws. I want to thank Senate President Spilka, Chair Rodrigues, and Senator Cyr for their thoughtful collaboration on this initiative and shared commitment to reforming our mental health care system so it is accessible, affordable, and equitable for all.”

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Friedman Votes on Next Generation Climate Policy, Advocates for Low Income Communities

BOSTON – On January 30, Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) joined her Senate colleagues in advancing three pieces of legislation that boldly tackle the contributing factors of climate change, propose one of the most forward-thinking courses of action against global warming in the country, and pave the way for a clean energy future for all of its residents.

“The Senate has shown its commitment to combating climate change with a sense of urgency by passing this next generation climate proposal,” said Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington). “I’m pleased that we took this major step forward to protect our environment, and am particularly proud that this legislation includes an amendment I fought for that would protect low-income families when the state is developing regulations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in our communities. I want to thank Senate President Spilka, Chair Rodrigues, and my Lexington counterpart Senator Barrett for taking the lead on this issue and putting Massachusetts on a path toward a clean, green and sustainable future.”

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Massachusetts Senate Passes Breakfast After the Bell Legislation

BOSTON – On January 16, Senator Cindy F. Friedman, D-Arlington, joined her Senate colleagues in unanimously passing legislation to fight childhood hunger and boost participation rates in school breakfast programs in the Commonwealth’s high-poverty schools. The bill, An Act regarding breakfast after the bell, would require all public K-12 schools with 60 percent or more students eligible for free or reduced-price meals under the federal National School Lunch Program to offer breakfast after the instructional day begins.

“No child should ever have to go hungry or wonder where their next meal will come from,” said Senator Cindy F. Friedman. “When our kids have access to nutritious meals, they do better in school – that’s why I’m proud the Senate passed this bill and has continually prioritized the health and well-being of our children throughout the Commonwealth.”

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Massachusetts Senate Passes the Healthy Youth Act

BOSTON – On January 16, Senator Cindy F. Friedman, D-Arlington, joined her Senate colleagues in passing the Healthy Youth Act. This bill would ensure that Massachusetts schools electing to provide their students with sex education use age-appropriate and medically accurate information that covers a comprehensive range of topics.

“Ensuring that our school districts provide medically accurate and age-appropriate sex education is commonsense,” said Senator Cindy F. Friedman. “Particularly in the era of the #MeToo movement, it’s critical that our youth understand the meaning of consent, how to build healthy relationships, the benefits of delaying sex, how to prevent STIs and pregnancy, and LGBTQIA+ health needs. Thank you to the students from my district who came to my office to advocate for this important bill, which will ensure that all youth are well-informed and equipped with the tools they need to lead healthy lives.”

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Friedman receives “Outstanding Public Official Award” for work on mental health initiatives

BOSTON – Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) recently received the “Outstanding Public Official Award” from Vinfen, an innovative health and human services organization that provides community-based services for people with disabilities. At its 12th Annual Celebration of Family Partnerships this fall, Vinfen honored the dedicated family members, guardians, advocates, self-advocates, and staff who support the individuals it serves.

“All people, including those with behavioral health challenges or disabilities, should be able to lead full and productive lives – free from prejudice and discrimination – and receive support from their communities,” said Senator Friedman, co-chair of the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing. “Thank you to Vinfen for recognizing my work, but more importantly, for the work you do each and every day to care for some of the most vulnerable people in our society.”

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Elected Officials Laud Grant for Recycling, Composting and Waste Reduction in Lexington

LEXINGTON – Senator Cindy Friedman (D-Arlington), Senator Mike Barrett (D-Lexington), and Representative Michelle Ciccolo (D-Lexington) applauded the announcement that the Town of Lexington received $116,000 in grant funding through the 2019 Sustainable Materials Recovery Program (SMRP). This is the second round of funding the Town has received from the program this year.

“I’m thrilled that our community has been awarded an additional grant through this program,” said Senator Friedman. “With this funding, Lexington will have the ability to increase waste reduction efforts and further protect the environment to help create a more sustainable future for all.”

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Friedman Named Legislator of the Year for Work Protecting Seniors

BOSTON – Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) was recently named Legislator of the Year by the Massachusetts Chapter of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (MassNAELA). At its annual meeting on Thursday, December 5th, MassNAELA honored several individuals for their advocacy of elder services and their commitment to raising awareness of legal issues impacting seniors.

“We must do everything we can to ensure that every individual in need of care – regardless of age or ability – is supported and has access to the appropriate resources,” said Senator Friedman, co-chair of the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing. “Thank you to the Mass. Academy of Elder Law Attorneys for recognizing my work and for striving each and every day to better the lives of those most vulnerable in our Commonwealth.”

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Friedman Votes on Campaign Finance Reform Bill to Bolster Transparency and Accountability

BOSTON Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) recently voted along with her colleagues to pass legislation that increases transparency and accountability in the Commonwealth’s elections by reforming fiscal reporting requirements. The bill, An Act relative to campaign finance, was later signed into law by Governor Baker on November 26, 2019.

“Ensuring transparency and accountability are a critical component of good government,” said Senator Friedman. “I’m pleased that we took a step forward to reform our campaign finance reporting system so that legislators are held to the same standard as statewide, county and municipal candidates who choose to run for office. Voters should be able to easily access accurate and timely information regarding campaign donations and expenditures, and this law will make that possible.”

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Friedman Votes on Bill to Ban Flavored Tobacco, Protect Youth from Nicotine Addiction

BOSTON – On November 20, Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) joined her legislative colleagues in passing legislation to reduce youth access to tobacco and nicotine products. The bill was later signed into law by Governor Baker on November 27, 2019.

“For far too long, Big Tobacco has successfully marketed its products to our children, leading to increases in tobacco use, serious health consequences, and a lifetime of nicotine addiction for many,” said Senator Friedman, co-chair of the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing. “The safety of our children is paramount, and it is our duty to take action to protect them from toxic substances found in flavored vaping products and other devices that keep them from leading healthy lives and focusing in school. I want to thank the students from my district who came to the State House to advocate for meaningful action on this issue. This new law is the product of their persistence and hard work, and we will have a safer and healthier Commonwealth as a result.”

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Massachusetts Senate Passes Plastic Bag Ban Bill

BOSTON – On November 20, Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) joined her Senate colleagues in voting on legislation that would implement a statewide ban on all carry-out plastic bags at checkout from retail stores.

“We must take action to reduce waste in our communities and protect our environment, and this statewide plastic bag ban is certainly a step in the right direction,” said Senator Friedman. “I want to acknowledge Senate President Spilka, Senator Rodrigues and Senator Eldridge for their work on this initiative and for ensuring that we continue to prioritize addressing environmental concerns this session.”

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