“We stand firmly behind Senate President Karen Spilka’s call for an aggressive approach to mitigating the impact and spread of the new COVID-19 Omicron variant across Massachusetts, and wholeheartedly support her recommendations to meet the acute challenges of this time. We have listened to the experts and it is clear that the administration must do more now. This includes supporting our hospitals by significantly reducing the time it takes to license doctors, nurses and hospital personnel coming from other states to increase our workforce. It includes significantly increasing outreach efforts in all communities with low vaccination rates. This means empowering and resourcing trusted community voices to provide language-appropriate messaging and direct connections to residents and families to address questions and combat vaccine misinformation. We know these kinds of efforts increase vaccination rates. It is also essential that there be a consistent, thorough, and evidence-based process for all school systems to follow that keeps our children, teachers, and staff safe and in school. We also encourage the administration to make rapid testing easily available and affordable throughout the Commonwealth. And finally, we must join together to
ensure residents have stable and safe housing, which we know is a critical component in stopping the spread of COVID-19.”

Joanne M. Comerford (D-Northampton)
Senate Chair,
Joint Committee on COVID-19 and Emergency Preparedness and Management

Senate Chair,
Joint Committee on Public Health

Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington)
Senate Vice Chair,
Joint Committee on COVID-19 and Emergency Preparedness and Management

Senate Chair,
Joint Committee on Health Care Financing


I Support Amendment #180 (the “ROE Act”) in the FY21 Senate Budget—Here’s why.

I firmly believe that everyone should be in control of their own bodies – and this includes women and their healthcare decisions. I have been a strong supporter of S.1209, the “ROE Act,” and have voiced my support in the past. I am proud to have voted YES in support of Amendment #180 in the Fiscal Year 2021 (FY) Senate Budget, which, similarly to the ROE Act, improves access to abortions in Massachusetts.

Please take a moment to read my statement on why I support Amendment #180 and if you have not done so already, read the full text of the Amendment on the Massachusetts Legislature website. In addition, feel free to share my statement with your friends and neighbors in our community.

Opinion: Telehealth is working, let’s keep it that way

COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on our lives, our healthcare system, and our economy, but one silver lining has been the immediate and dramatic expansion of telehealth services. We’d be foolish not to seize this opportunity to ensure that telehealth access remains a part of routine medical care in the Commonwealth long after the pandemic is over.

Teleheatlh refers to health care services that are provided remotely, typically through videoconference or phone call. It offers a convenient way for patients to access care and consult with a doctor through technology, such as a laptop or phone, that a patient may already own. Telehealth allows patients to essentially take part in a virtual doctor’s appointment—whether it’s using a tablet to snap a photo of your skin to send to your dermatologist for a quick evaluation or having a 30-minute counseling session with your therapist over the phone.

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Black Lives Matter

Rightfully so, many of you have reached out to me over the last few weeks calling for reform in the way that we police and to confront the systemic racism that is deeply embedded in our institutions – and I couldn’t agree more. This moment requires us to stand together, make our voices heard, and demand action so that we can make meaningful change together.

Read more about some of my thoughts on the Black Lives Matter movement in Massachusetts and how we should move forward.

OPINION: Friedman writes, actions taken by the state providing positive results

The COVID-19 public health crisis has placed an unprecedented strain on Massachusetts residents, businesses, our healthcare system and our economy. We’ve made extraordinary sacrifices as the state took swift science-driven measures to slow the spread of the virus and save lives. 

Massachusetts acted fast and early, implementing a stay-at-home advisory, social distancing guidelines and closure of non-essential businesses. Simultaneously, the state dramatically expanded testing and hospital capacity, allowing us to test 10,000 plus residents per day and increasing intensive care unit (ICU) bed capacity by 80%.

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Letter to the Editor: Sen. Friedman is focusing on right priorities

The following is an excerpt of a Letter to the Editor published in the Lexington Minuteman by Amy Rosenthal, Executive Director of Health Care for All and Lexington resident:

A recent Lexington Minuteman story highlighted the health care accomplishments of state Senator Cindy Friedman. We should feel proud that Massachusetts is a national health care leader – our insurance rate is 97% for adults and 98% for children; our hospitals are international leaders; and we are testing innovative ways to improve the quality of our care. However, we know that having a health insurance card is not a guarantee to affordable services and more needs to be done to address inequities in our health care system. 

That’s why it’s invigorating to see that state leaders like Senator Friedman are willing to focus on key health care priorities. She helped negotiate provisions in our FY20 state budget that have helped bring down the cost of prescription drugs for the state’s MassHealth program, saving the state $6 million in the first few months alone. 

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Massachusetts Senate zeroes in on drug costs

Massachusetts Senate leaders introduced their entry into the debate last week, teeing up the Pharmaceutical Access, Cost and Transparency Act for floor debate Thursday.

The legislation seeks to broaden the powers of the commission to look at any drugs costing $50,000 a year or more or any “drug whose cost exceeds an HPC value for that drug.” “You will see a public process around cost and proposed value,” said Senator Cindy Friedman, cochair of the Health Care Financing Committee.

What matters on Main Street is that no one should have to cross our northern border to buy life-saving drugs. That no one should try to whip up a batch of insulin in the basement. That consumers know that the drugs they and their insurers are paying for will be assessed for both cost and value.

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Op-Ed: Safe injection sites are another tool on the path to recovery

When we were first introduced to the idea of safe injection facilities, we were not immediately on board. In fact, we felt uneasy about it, but vowed to keep an open mind.

After serving on the state’s harm-reduction commission, listening to testimony, studying the effectiveness of safe injection facilities in other countries, visiting clinics in the Boston area, and learning from experts, our perspective changed. The idea of such sites is uncomfortable to many, but it’s not about our comfort level. It’s about keeping people alive long enough to get them into treatment.

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I support the ROE Act – here’s why.

I have received numerous phone calls and emails from many of you regarding the ROE Act (S.1209), a bill filed by my colleague, Senate President Emerita Harriette Chandler. I would like to take this time to outline my support for the bill, clarify what the bill seeks to accomplish, and address some of the concerns and misconceptions regarding the bill.

Please take a moment to read my statement on why I support the ROE Act and if you have not done so already, read the full text of the bill on the Massachusetts Legislature website. In addition, feel free to share my statement with your friends and neighbors in our community. 

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Letter to the Editor: Social workers key to addressing opioid crisis

There is a rising need for social workers in Middlesex County and throughout Massachusetts to help us manage the most pressing public health problem we face today – the opioid crisis.

In 2017, there were 357 opioid-related overdose deaths in Middlesex County, more than any other county in Massachusetts. There is an urgent need to address this crisis – and social workers are an integral part of the solution. 

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