I know that many of you are growing increasingly concerned about the impact the coronavirus is having on our district and the Commonwealth. I share your concerns and I am working hard to address them.
To keep you as informed as possible, I’ve created a “Coronavirus Updates” page on my website that I will keep updated with the latest information. Please feel free to bookmark it and check it often for the latest updates and guidance.
BOSTON (3/26/20) – Today, the Massachusetts Senate passed legislation to expand the scope of practice for certain health care professionals for the duration of the COVID-19 public health emergency. This bill removes barriers to immediate care by granting certain health care professionals the authority to work at the top of their license, education and training to ensure that our health care system can meet the increased demand it’s currently seeing due to the coronavirus outbreak.
“We’ve heard loud and clear from the health care provider community that they need their professionals working at the top of their license in order to manage the increased demand that the coronavirus outbreak has brought on our health care system,” said Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington), co-chair of the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing. “This bill allows health care professionals, advanced practice registered nurses in particular, to work at the height of their training and education, maximizing safe and efficient care delivery and increasing access to care for all those in need. I’d like to thank the Senate President and Chair Rodrigues for their leadership on this issue and for their continued commitment to increasing access to critical care as we address this public health emergency.”
BOSTON (3/24/20) – Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) supported a bill that passed the Senate and House to help protect public health by providing cities and towns the authority to postpone and reschedule certain municipal elections and related activities. The bill was signed into law by the Governor shortly after.
“As we address COVID-19, we must do everything we can to uphold our democracy,” said Senator Friedman. “I’m pleased that this bill empowers our municipalities to delay elections and allow vote-by-mail and absentee voting options to ensure that voters can safely make their voices heard. I want to thank Senate President Spilka and Speaker DeLeo for getting this done so expeditiously.”
On March 18, Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) supported a bill that passed the Senate that waives the one-week waiting period for any person making a claim for unemployment benefits, if the unemployment is a result of any circumstances relating to or resulting from the COVID-19 outbreak or the effects of the Governor’s declaration of a state of emergency on March 10, 2020. This step was taken so that workers impacted by COVID-19 can access the benefits they need right away.
“The coronavirus outbreak has posed serious financial challenges for many workers in our district and the Commonwealth,” said Friedman, who serves on the Senate Working Group tasked with addressing COVID-19 challenges in Massachusetts. “This bill will allow workers that have been impacted by this public health emergency to access the benefits they need right away. This is just one step of many that we will take to provide relief to our residents during this difficult time.”
BOSTON (3/5/20) – Senator Cindy Friedman
(D-Arlington) and Representative Ken Gordon (D-Bedford) lauded the announcement
that Burlington High School received a Skills Capital Grant to update equipment
and expand student enrollment in programs that provide career education.
Burlington High School received $225,700, which will be used to improve the equipment in its Innovation Pathway program in information technology. “These funds will be used to enhance our student’s learning experience and allow them to use the most up to date equipment to maximize their education,” said Friedman. “Through this opportunity, Burlington High students will be able to develop the skills necessary to be more effective and successful when they eventually enter the workforce.”
(3/2/20) — Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) recently joined her
colleagues in passing two bills that update state laws to reflect the phrase ‘persons
with disabilities,’ and create a process for homeless adults or minors to apply
for a state identification card.
“The passage of these bills reflects the Senate’s commitment to standing up for every single resident in Massachusetts regardless of ability or socioeconomic background,” said Friedman. “I’m proud of the Senate for advancing these important initiatives which seek to humanize and acknowledge members of our society who are often unable to advocate for themselves.”
Attorney General Maura Healey announced settlements resolving allegations that three health insurance companies — Harvard Pilgrim, Fallon and AllWays Health Partners — violated the federal Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act. She also announced agreements to improve behavioral health access with four other companies: Beacon Health Strategies, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, Optum and Tufts Health Plan.
Sen. Cindy Friedman, who has spoken out about her efforts to get mental health treatment for her family, applauded Healey’s office for addressing what she called a lack of parity compliance.
Friedman also said the agreements help make the case that the Legislature should pass the Senate’s own parity bill, the Mental Health ABC Act, that passed earlier this month. “I’m hopeful that the Legislature will recognize the seriousness and urgency of the issue highlighted by the attorney general today and take appropriate action this session,” she said in a statement.
BOSTON (2/28/20) – On February 28, Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) joined her colleagues in passing a mid-year supplemental budget for Fiscal Year 2020 of $123 million in spending to address time sensitive deficiencies and unforeseen needs across the Commonwealth that require immediate attention.
“This budget demonstrates the Senate’s commitment to providing residents across the state with the resources they need to sustain their lives while maintaining fiscal responsibility,” said Senator Friedman, Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “Most notably, this budget maintains critical heating assistance for low-income households, increases healthy food options, supports our students, and funds an important behavioral health awareness campaign to improve the well-being of residents across the Commonwealth.”
— As Philadelphia
announced it will open the country’s first safe injection site in South Philly,
legislation is underway at the State House to open sites in Massachusetts.
“I think it’s good news and I’m glad the
city is moving forward on a safe injection facility,” said Senator Cindy Friedman. Friedman
served on the state’s task force studying safe injection sites. She says
while she’s happy Philly is opening a facility, it doesn’t necessarily mean
that we’re much closer to getting one in Mass.
“I think it will be a great test for everybody. I’m not sure it will have a huge influence on Massachusetts because I know that our U.S. Attorney has vowed that he won’t be swayed by the decision,” she said.
The Senate recently passed the Mental Health: Addressing Barriers to Care (ABC) Act, a comprehensive bill aimed at reforming the mental health care system in our state. I had the pleasure of working closely with Senate President Karen Spilka, Senate Ways and Means Chair Michael Rodrigues, and Mental Health, Substance Use and Recovery Chair Julian Cyr in crafting and passing this important piece of legislation, and I’m so pleased with the product of our work. The bill is now before the House of Representatives for consideration. Throughout the remainder of the 2019-2020 legislative session, I will continue to advocate for this important bill – among the many other bills I’m working on this session – because I know how critical it is to my constituents in the 4th Middlesex district and to residents across Massachusetts.
For those who still have questions about the bill or want to learn more about why this bill is so important to our district and the Commonwealth, please click on the following link:
Everything You Need to Know About the Mental Health ABC Act