Senator Friedman has sponsored the following bills relative to healthcare in the 2019-2020 legislative session:
S355 An Act relative to intensive case management for clinically complex older adults
- Summary: This bill would establish in the Department of Elder Affairs, subject to appropriation, an intensive case management program for older adults with complex care needs such as mental illness, substance misuse, hoarding, dysfunctional families, or dementia. Intensive case management would allow these clinically complex individuals to be supported in transitioning to home care services, or would allow such individuals to remain in their homes.
S587 An Act to establish health equity for pregnant persons
- Summary: This bill would require that insurance coverage for all medical care related to pregnancy, including c-sections, abortions, and abortion-related care, be provided free of any deductibles, co-insurance, co-pays or other cost-sharing arrangements. The bill would further provide an exemption from covering abortion or abortion-related care at the request of an employer that is a church or qualified church-controlled organization.
S591 An Act relative to long-term care insurance consumer protections
- Summary: This bill would create a cap on lifetime rate increases for long-term care insurance of 20%, protecting consumers from sudden unexpected and sizeable increases in premiums. It would also mandate a higher loss ratio ranging from 80% to 90%, ensuring that a greater percentage of premiums are spent on claims. Currently, loss ratios are around 60% for these policies. The Attorney General’s office in 2017 made similar recommendations in testimony submitted to the Division of Insurance, but so far the Division has not adopted regulations to effectuate these recommendations.
S592 An Act relative to consumer transparency about provider networks
- Summary: This bill would require insurance carriers to provide accessible, up-to-date lists of in-network healthcare providers, including those providing behavioral health services. It would also mandate specific provider reporting and updating requirements for insurance carriers that would apply equally to behavioral health and physical health provider information. In addition, it would place requirements on carriers to provide a point of contact for any members or prospective members who are not able to locate a network provider through the carrier’s directory, to help them find appropriate providers. This bill would also give the Commissioner of Insurance the authority to require an insurance carrier to pay for out-of-network services under circumstances where the Commissioner finds that an insured individual reasonably relied upon inaccurate information regarding network status contained in a carrier’s provider directory.
S686 An Act to protect medically fragile kids
- Summary: This bill would require the Center for Health Information and Analysis (CHIA), in conjunction with MassHealth, to prepare a biennial report related to patients requiring continuous skilled nursing care, to include information such as the number of pediatric and adult patients requiring such care, the number of hours of such care authorized by MassHealth and the number of hours actually delivered, the number of nurses providing such care, their rate of reimbursement and a comparison of that rate with the rates paid to other nurses. The legislation would require the Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS), subject to appropriation, to increase the budget for continuous skilled nursing care with the goal of achieving fulfillment of at least 85% of continuous skilled nursing hours authorized by MassHealth by 2024. This bill would direct the Office of Medicaid to review the wage payment rates established by home health agencies providing continuous skilled nursing care, conduct an analysis and make recommendations on criteria to be included in any future reporting by these agencies.
S1262 An Act requiring pain assessment and management in healthcare facilities
- Summary: This bill would establish a patient’s right to prompt assessment, management, and treatment of their pain, as well as periodic reassessment and modification of their pain management plan, as necessary.
S1264 An Act relative to preventing cancers caused by human papilloma virus
- Summary: This bill would require that the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine be administered to students as a condition for public school attendance. The bill would direct the Department of Public Health to promulgate the necessary regulations to put this requirement into effect.
S1265 An Act relative to expanding access to preventative HIV screening and testing for minors
- Summary: This bill would define HIV and AIDS as diseases dangerous to public health and as venereal diseases, ensuring that HIV and AIDS screenings are inscribed in law as infectious diseases for which minors can consent to preventive testing, screening and treatment without parental approval. It would also instruct the Department of Public Health (DPH) to cover the costs of these services and would shield health care providers from liability for not obtaining parental consent.
Senator Friedman has co-sponsored the following bills relative to healthcare in the 2019-2020 legislative session:
S352 An Act relative to stabilizing the Commonwealth’s nursing facilities
- Summary: This bill would require the Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS) to update nursing home rates by applying the same inflation factor Medicare uses in establishing Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF) prospective payment rates. Use of a valid, annual inflation factor would better ensure nursing facilities have the necessary resources to invest in staff and resident care. It would also require the state to update MassHealth payments for nursing home care using 2017 costs. Currently, state funding for nursing home care is based on 2007 costs and do not accurately reflect inflationary increases in staff wages, health insurance and other labor benefits, energy, food and capital improvements. The bill would require the Commonwealth Corporation, subject to appropriation, to establish a career ladder program for long term care. This program was previously funded in past state budgets and was instrumental in workers advancing their skills and thereby enhancing quality patient care. At the height of the program, nearly 30% of the Commonwealth’s skilled nursing facilities were participating in career ladder programs. Finally, it would require the Department of Public Health, subject to appropriation, to establish a direct care scholarship program for long term care workers. During better economic times, this successful program was included in the state budget with more than 1,500 long term care workers receiving scholarships for direct care training
S611 An Act to promote value-based insurance design in the Commonwealth
- Summary: Increasing co-payments and deductibles have become an obstacle to good healthcare and too often result in patients delaying or forgoing necessary healthcare. This legislation aims to increase access and adherence to high-value treatments and medication by establishing a state panel of experts to recommend high-value and cost-effective services, treatments, and prescription drugs as well as eliminating cost-sharing (like co-pays and deductibles) for the recommended services, treatments and prescription drugs under all fully-insured health plans.
S671 An Act relative to the nursing home quality jobs initiative
- Summary: N/A
S675 An Act establishing a community health center transition fund
- Summary: N/A
S677 An Act to ensure equitable health coverage for children
- Summary: Currently, low-income immigrant children who are not otherwise eligible for MassHealth can access only very limited health coverage, which leaves them without adequate access to many services, including prescription drugs, mental health services, durable medical equipment, dental services, and emergency care. This bill would expand MassHealth coverage to low-income children whose only barrier to accessing comprehensive coverage is their immigration status. Other states, including California, Washington, Oregon, Illinois and New York have already enacted this policy.
S678 An Act improving public health through a common application for core food, health and safety-net programs
- Summary: This bill seeks to close the SNAP Gap by creating a common application portal to allow low-income households apply for MassHealth and SNAP benefits at the same time. A single online application for these core programs and other basic safety net programs would allow more low-income residents and senior citizens easier access to these entitlement programs.
S683 An Act establishing Medicare for all in Massachusetts
- Summary: This bill would transition the Commonwealth to a single-payer healthcare system by removing profit-driven health insurance companies as the barrier between patients and providers, and instead allow the government to reimburse health care providers directly.
S700 An Act providing transparency for patients receiving care at hospital-based facilities
- Summary: This legislation would establish statewide transparency requirements for all patients that are consistent with Medicare standards (42 CFR 413.65). Under this bill, any hospital-based outpatient provider, prior to the delivery of non-emergency health care services, will be required to inform a patient that: it is licensed as part of the hospital and the patient may receive a separate facility fee charge that is in addition to and separate from the professional fee charged by the provider; that the patient may incur financial liability that is greater than the patient would incur if the professional medical services were not provided by a hospital-based facility; and how the patient can find out information on the potential financial liability for the known services that may be provided through the hospital or the patient’s insurance carrier, along with information that the actual liability may change depending on the actual services provided.
H1102 An Act to establish health equity for pregnant persons
- Summary: This bill ensures that full-spectrum pregnancy and abortion care are not subject to any deductible, coinsurance, copayment or any other cost-sharing requirement that would place unreasonable restrictions or delays in the health coverage for pregnant persons.
S1208 An Act relative to end of life options
- Summary: N/A
S1209 An Act to remove obstacles and expand abortion access
- Summary: Known as the “ROE Act,” this bill would codify abortion rights and ensure equitable access to abortion by removing unnecessary, burdensome provisions that delay and deny care. Further, this bill would improve access to affordable reproductive care options.
S1214 An Act to create an emergency nursing home task force
- Summary: The bill would create a 13-person stakeholder taskforce to make policy recommendations needed to stabilize the rapidly shifting nursing home industry. The goal of this legislation is to take a comprehensive approach to creating policy that looks at the statewide need for skilled nursing facilities, patient care and worker engagement.
S1215 An Act to improve oral health for all Massachusetts residents
- Summary: This bill would create a new dental therapist practice model intended to improve the public health of the population of Massachusetts. The model would include standards that align with those put forward by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA), including the requirements to attain certification for dental procedures a practitioner may perform.
S1235 An Act relative to step therapy and patient safety
- Summary: N/A
S1293 An Act to promote public health through the prevention and wellness trust fund
- Summary: This bill would reauthorize and expand the Prevention and Wellness Trust Fund.
S1332 An Act relative to out-of-hospital birth access and safety
- Summary: This bill would expand access to safe and regulated maternal health care by creating a board of midwifery and providing licensure for certified professional midwives.