Legislative leaders are pushing for the allocation of $10 million to a new trust fund that would be used for a public awareness campaign and loan forgiveness program for mental health professionals. The proposal is the start of what senators say will be wide-ranging effort in reshaping how mental health care is accessed, treated and understood throughout the state.
Sen. Cindy Friedman, the chair of the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing, said the newest loan program is trying to solve job shortages driven by low reimbursement to certain providers.
“Historically the rates for behavioral health providers are significantly lower than they are for most medical/surgical,” said Friedman, an Arlington Democrat. “This is causing a huge issue with workforce, and getting people to actually work in this field. They can’t afford to work in it. Either the rates are so low and the administrative burden is so high they stop taking insurance, or they leave the field altogether.”