BOSTON (9/24/2020) – The Massachusetts Association for Mental Health (MAMH) recently honored Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) with their Spirit of Compassion Award during its 107th Annual – and first ever virtual – Friend and Leader Awards Event. This annual event salutes individuals whose work contributes to progress in awareness, health promotion, prevention and effective treatment for children and adults affected by mental health challenges throughout Massachusetts.
“As a parent of someone with a severe mental illness, I know firsthand how difficult it can be to navigate the mental health care system in Massachusetts,” said Friedman. “I’m honored to be recognized for my commitment to this issue, and I am grateful to MAMH’s continued collaboration and tireless advocacy on behalf of some of the most vulnerable people in our state.”
As the coronavirus pandemic ramped up across the United States early in 2020, Massachusetts officials began to implement a variety of measures aimed at staving off transmission of the viral respiratory infection and protecting the public.
Having the command center was just critical, just to have not only a central place, but a single person,”Friedman said. “I don’t wish that job on anyone, but that was so critical, because there was a place where we could at least centralize information and feel like we were getting information back forth.”
BOSTON (08/17/20) – The Massachusetts Senate recently passed legislation that removes existing barriers for students with intellectual disabilities, autism spectrum disorders or other developmental disabilities so they can attend public institutions of higher education. The bill, which passed with bipartisan support, honors the spirit of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which was signed into law 30 years ago this week by President George H.W. Bush.
“The passage of this bill in honor of the 30thanniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act is an important step in opening more doors for people with disabilities in the Commonwealth,” said Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington). “I applaud my Senate colleagues and the many schools districts and higher education institutions who partnered on this important bill, which seeks to create a more inclusive Commonwealth for all and ensures that all students – regardless of ability – have equal access to quality higher education.”
BOSTON (08/17/2020) – The Massachusetts Senate unanimously passed three bipartisanbills to increase birth options and safety for all pregnant and perinatal people in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. One bill establishes a commission to study barriers to substance use treatment for women in the perinatal period, another establishes a commission to address racial inequities in maternal healthcare in Massachusetts, and a third increases options for safe, professional birthing care in the Commonwealth by licensing midwifery.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted glaring inequities in our health care system, particularly in maternal health,” said Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington), co-chair of the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing. “This package of bills seeks to address these inequities among vulnerable and marginalized populations to ensure that women have access to the care they need to live healthy lives. This legislation builds on the Senate’s ongoing commitment to breakinng down barriers to care and creating a health care system that works better for everyone.”
BOSTON (8/10/2020) – The Massachusetts Senate recently passed the Genocide Education Act to educate middle and high school students on the history of genocide and to promote the teaching of human rights issues.
“Hate incidents and hate crimes have increased dramatically in recent years, which is why it’s imperative that we use every tool at our disposal to dismantle hate in our Commonwealth,” said Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington). “Education and learning about the history of genocide – and the painful consequences of ignorance, bigotry and intolerance – is one of those tools. I believe the passage of this bill is an important step toward equipping the next generation with the knowledge and the resources they need to recognize hate and to dispel hate in our communities.”
BOSTON (8/10/2020) – The Massachusetts Legislature recently passed legislation to fight childhood hunger and boost participation rates in school breakfast programs in schools with high percentages of students from low-income families in the Commonwealth. The bill, An Act regarding breakfast after the bell, would require all public K‑12 schools with 60 percent or more students eligible for free or reduced-price meals under the federal National School Lunch Program to offer breakfast after the instructional day begins. The bill was signed into law shortly after.
“Students cannot focus and excel in the classroom if they are hungry,” said Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington). “When children have access to nutritious meals, they are happier, healthier, and perform better at school. This bill continues the fight against food insecurity by ensuring that more students don’t have to struggle with hunger while at school. Thank you to my legislative colleagues for continually putting the health and well-being of our kids above all else.”
BOSTON (8/7/2020) – The Massachusetts Senate recently passed a bill to introduce new oversight and reporting requirements for the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families (DCF). The bill, An Act relative to accountability for vulnerable children and families,also moves the child fatality review board to the Office of the Child Advocate (OCA), establishes a ‘Foster Parent Bill of Rights,’ and increases access to mental health care for children in the Commonwealth.
“This bill is an important step in maintaining the health and well-being of vulnerable children in our Commonwealth, particularly during this time of increased anxiety and need,” said Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington), Chair of the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing. “I’m pleased that this bill reduces barriers to mental health care for children and increases access to treatment, making it easier for parents to get their child the critical care they need and deserve. I’m grateful for Senate President Spilka and all of my Senate colleagues for recognizing the importance of improving mental health care in our state and making it a priority this session.”
BOSTON (7/30/20) – Today, the Massachusetts State Senate passed legislation to limit the use of step therapy, or ‘fail-first’ protocols that too often direct patients to cheaper medications rather than those more suitable to treat their condition. The bill, An Act relative to step therapy and patient safety, gives health care providers more leverage in determining the most effective treatment options for patients, saving patients expensive and painful regimens on medications they know to be ineffective or harmful.
“This bill takes an important step toward placing treatment decisions back in the hands of the health care provider and patient by limiting opportunities for insurance companies to force a patient to fail on certain medications before they can access the one most suitable for their needs,” said Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington), co-chair of the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing. “While we must continue to address the high cost of drugs, we cannot do it at the expense of patients, and cost can never be the primary determinant of whether a patient has to suffer needlessly before they can access the medication that is most effective for treating their condition.”
(BOSTON‑07/30/2020) – The Massachusetts State Senate passed a sweeping economic recovery and development bill on Wednesday that provides much-needed support to businesses, invests in infrastructure, and creates new jobs in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a devastating toll on our economy, presenting serious challenges for restaurants and small businesses, exacerbating housing issues, and impacting sectors of our economy that our communities depend on to thrive,” said Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington). “The ENDURE Act will help us overcome the significant economic downturn caused by the pandemic, putting our Commonwealth on a pathway toward a more equitable and sustainable economic future. I’d like to thank the Senate President as well as Senators Rodrigues and Lesser for their steadfast leadership in moving this bill through the legislative process with a sense of urgency as our state reopens and recovers.”
BOSTON (7/24/2020) – The Massachusetts Senate unanimously passed legislation that resolves a decade-long distribution dispute between brewers and wholesalers in the Commonwealth.
“The craft brewing industry has become a welcome addition to our state’s economy over the last several years,” said Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington). “Solving this dispute is a big win for breweries in our local communities and will allow them to continue to thrive and contribute to the economic stability of our cities and towns.”