(BOSTON – 11/17/2021) Today, Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) joined her colleagues in the Massachusetts Senate to pass the Mental Health ABC Act 2.0: Addressing Barriers to Care (ABC), comprehensive legislation to continue the process of reforming the way mental health care is delivered in Massachusetts, with the goal of ensuring that people get the mental health care they need when they need it. This legislation comes at a time when the Massachusetts State Senate is making landmark investments in mental and behavioral health, including $400 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to transform the behavioral health sector, with $122 million dedicated to recruiting and retaining nearly 2,000 behavioral professionals.
The Mental Health ABC Act 2.0 is driven by the recognition that mental health is as important as physical health for every resident of the Commonwealth and should be treated as such. The bill proposes a wide variety of reforms to ensure equitable access to mental health care and remove barriers to care by supporting the behavioral health workforce. Senator Friedman worked alongside Senator Julian Cyr, Senate President Karen Spilka, and Senate Ways and Means Chair Michael Rodrigues to construct the bill.
“Massachusetts’ health care system should deliver affordable, high quality, and accessible care to all of our residents—including mental health care,” said Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington), co-chair of the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing. “This bill recognizes that mental health care is just as important, valuable, and worthy of treatment as physical health care, and begins to tackle our most pressing issues, such as expanding services to all corners of the Commonwealth, enforcing existing parity laws, and addressing the boarding crisis in our Emergency Departments that is impacting too many of our children and families. I sincerely thank Senate President Spilka for her continued commitment to bold action on mental health care with the passage of this bill. I also thank Senator Cyr, Senator Rodrigues, and all of the advocates involved in crafting this bill for their thoughtful collaboration and shared commitment to reforming our mental health care system so that it works for everyone.”