Some say Sheriff Nick Cocchi’s approach to addiction treatment is among the best in Massachusetts — but some say jail is the wrong place for recovery

There is growing consensus among addiction specialists that substance use disorder is an illness, not a crime — and that treatment should be delivered in a health facility, not a jail. In 2016, Gov. Charlie Baker signed a bill ending the practice of treating civilly committed women in prisons. The women were moved to secure treatment facilities run through the departments of public health and mental health. A bill pending in the Legislature would do the same for men.

One of the bill’s sponsors, Sen. Cindy Friedman, D-Arlington, said someone who is ill does not belong in a correctional facility. “Section 35 is not a crime,” Friedman said. “Correctional facilities have very different reasons for existing. They have very different missions. People who are Section 35 are people who are ill, and they don’t belong in prison.”

Read more

Ghost Networks are Beneficial to Insurers, Detrimental to Patients

A recent study revealed that out of 360 psychiatrists listed on Blue Cross Blue Shield’s (BCBS) in-network provider portal in Houston, Chicago, and Boston, 74% were completely inaccessible because the contact information listed was inaccurate.  In fact, many of the phone numbers rang through to other businesses.  If a doctor was reached, the office didn’t accept BCBS or were not accepting new patients even though the list specified they were. 

Massachusetts state Senator Cindy Friedman has been working towards getting insurance companies to update their provider lists for some time, ensuring they have accurate contact information.  She said, “They’ve known about this for a long time and they haven’t done anything about it.  It’s difficult not to assume that this kind of barrier is intentional.”

Read more

Friedman advocates for bill to protect children from toxic chemicals

BOSTON – On July 8, Senator Cindy F. Friedman, D-Arlington, testified before the Joint Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure on a bill she filed that would require the disclosure of toxic chemicals in children’s products. The bill was first filed in a previous session and spearheaded by Senator Ken Donnelly (D-Arlington) and former Representative Jay Kaufman (D-Lexington), and has since been championed by Friedman.

“This is a commonsense proposal that simply asks that information be made publicly available about what is in products that are intended to be used by and for children,” said Friedman. “The passage of this bill would be a step toward transitioning to safer alternatives and protecting the health, safety, and welfare of our children and other vulnerable populations in Massachusetts.”  

Read more

Venture capitalists oppose plan to bar discrimination in investments

Boston’s venture capital industry, long dominated by white men, has repeatedly pledged to fund a more diverse group of startup founders. But now it’s resisting a state legislative proposal that would prohibit investors from discriminating against women and minorities when deciding which companies to back.

The bill, proposed by state Senator Cindy F. Friedman, an Arlington Democrat, would subject investors to legal consequences if they sexually harass those they fund or consider funding, or if they discriminate on the basis of race, gender, or any other class protected by state law.

Read more

Burlington Residents Asked to Take Survey on MBTA Services

State Sen. Cindy Friedman put a survey on social media asking residents for their feedback of the state’s public transportation system. 

“Whether you board an MBTA bus in Burlington, ride the commuter rail from North Billerica or Woburn, take the Red Line from Alewife, or avoid public transportation altogether because of inconsistent service, there are vital improvements that need to be made in order to transition to a 21st century transportation system that works for everyone,” the post says. “Your input in needed for real action in solving these problems or we’ll continue to experience unreliable service, more derailments, over-crowded trains, and more.

“Many people rely on public transportation each day to travel to and from work and have expressed frustration with the lack of urgency when it comes to addressing our public transportation crisis,” the post continues. “Help make a difference in the commuting and travel needs of Burlington and surrounding communities by Clicking Here and sharing your thoughts.”

Read more

Burlington delegation advocates for affordable access to early education and childcare

BOSTON ­­–Representative Ken Gordon (D-Bedford) and Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) are advocating for legislation they filed which would call for more affordable, accessible and high-quality early education and child care for families in the Commonwealth. Their bills, H.470 and S.288, which are identical, are part of an ongoing effort to make childcare more affordable and available to all parents in the state.

“There is an urgent need for more affordable access to early childcare and education in the Commonwealth,” said Friedman. “Working families across my district struggle to access quality childcare that meets their needs, creating unnecessary stress for parents. This bill is the first step in a long process to ensure that every Massachusetts parent can go to work and get their child the care they need at a rate they can afford.”

Read more

Friedman stands up for workers, votes on collective bargaining bill to support unions

BOSTON – Senator Cindy F. Friedman, D-Arlington, recently joined her colleagues in voting on legislation that would help protect a public unions’ ability to effectively represent all workers in labor agreements following the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the case Janus v. AFSCME.

“The Supreme Court’s ruling last year drastically restricted the ability of unions to organize and collectively bargain,” said Friedman. “I’m proud that the Senate has made it clear that our state supports the rights of unions and understands the benefits that they provide our workers. Working women and men across the Commonwealth should be able to fight for fair compensation and better work conditions, and this bill will help ensure that unions have the resources necessary to effectively advocate for them.”

Read more

Addressing our public transportation crisis – request for feedback

Whether you take the Red Line from Alewife, ride the commuter rail from North Billerica or Woburn, board an MBTA bus throughout the many bus stops in our district, or avoid public transportation altogether because you are fed up with such inconsistent service, there are vital improvements we need to make in order to transition to a 21st century transportation system that works for everyone.

If we don’t take real action to solve these problems, we will continue to experience unreliable service, more derailments, over-crowded trains, and much more.

Read more

Obama’s drug czar Michael Botticelli backs bill to get addiction patients out of jails

A bill that would end the decades-old practice of sending men committed to substance use disorder treatments to jail got a nod of approval from former President Barack Obama’s drug czar. Michael Botticelli called the Massachusetts law — the only state in the country with such a mandate — ineffective, inhumane and costly for taxpayers.

The bill, introduced by Rep. Ruth Balser of Newton and Sen. Cindy Friedman of Arlington, would eliminate the practice for both men and women. It would require any civilly committed people to be treated at a facility run by the Department of Public Health or the Department of Mental Health, instead of the Department of Corrections.

Read more