Giving back to the district in the FY20 state budget

As vice chair of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, I recently had the pleasure of serving on the six-member conference committee to reconcile the differences between the House and Senate versions of the Fiscal Year 2020 (FY20) state budget. The committee reached consensus last week on a compromise spending plan for the new fiscal year that began on July 1, and it was approved by both legislative chambers on July 22. Having passed the House and Senate, the legislation now moves to the Governor’s desk for his review. He has 10 days to review the budget and issue any vetoes.

This $43.1 billion budget makes substantial investments in education, physical and behavioral health care, housing, and local aid, and it includes several key investments to support programs and services for our district and the Commonwealth.

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Friedman votes on bills to promote health care access, support unions, and end child marriage

BOSTON – Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) recently joined her colleagues in voting on legislation that would increase access to mental health care for patients in Massachusetts and bring the state one step closer toward mental health parity. She also voted in favor of legislation that would end child marriage in the Commonwealth and voted against an amendment offered by the Governor on a bill that protects a public unions’ ability to effectively represent all workers in labor agreements.

“Taking action to eliminate ghost networks in Massachusetts is long overdue. It’s extremely frustrating and shameful that individuals seeking mental health care in Massachusetts are often unable to find accurate, reliable information about available doctors through their insurance carrier,” said Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington), co-chair of the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing. “I applaud the collaborative effort among elected officials, healthcare providers, patient advocates and insurers in getting this done so that we can ensure patients get the care they need in an efficient and timely manner.”

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Lexington senator says supervised injection center can’t wait

State Sen. Cindy Friedman was among the lawmakers who spent months studying ways to reduce the death toll from opioid overdoses. And she did not parse words when presenting findings Wednesday: the state has an “obligation” to pilot a supervised injection site, as a commission recommended.

“I know that the idea of safe consumption sites is uncomfortable to many, but if they are proven to save lives, then we have an obligation to at least give them a try,” Sen. Cindy Friedman, D-Arlington, a member of the Harm Reduction Commission, told a committee July 24. “Lives are at stake and we cannot wait any longer.”

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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.”

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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.”  

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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.

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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.”

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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.”

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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.

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