Friedman Helps Pass Oversight Reform Bill for Veterans’ Homes

Legislation would restructure chain of command at Holyoke and Chelsea Homes
and improve oversight to prevent future tragedy

(BOSTON – 03/10/2022) On Thursday, March 10, 2022, Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) joined her colleagues in the Massachusetts State Senate to unanimously pass legislation to increase public oversight over the administration of state-operated veterans’ homes in Holyoke and Chelsea. To improve safety and transparency at the veterans’ homes, the bill would restructure the chain of command to more closely match established administrative practices used in hospitals and other large organizations. This legislation follows continued scrutiny of administrative failures at the veterans’ home in Holyoke, which led to the tragic deaths of 77 veterans during the early days of the pandemic and builds on recommendations made by the Special Joint Oversight Committee on the Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke COVID-19 Outbreak, which investigated the tragedy. In the wake of the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home outbreak, Senator Friedman played a lead role in negotiating a bond bill to finance construction of a new home.

“I am so pleased that this bill passed the Massachusetts Senate, as it ensures added protections to the health and wellbeing of veterans at these state-run facilities,” stated Sen. Friedman, Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing. “My work on the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home bond bill provided me with an understanding of just how important these facilities are to Massachusetts veterans and with stronger oversight, we can improve the services the facilities offer while also preventing future tragedies.”… Read more.

Friedman Votes for Bills Supporting Equitable Health Care Access for Women

Legislation would expand access to maternal postpartum care, menstrual products in public place

BOSTON (03/03/2022) – Today, Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) joined her colleagues in the Massachusetts State Senate to pass two bills that would expand equitable health care access for women in Massachusetts. One bill would help to address the crisis in maternal health by ensuring that pregnant and postpartum mothers and birthing people get necessary and potentially life-saving health care by extending MassHealth insurance coverage to 12 months after pregnancy. A second bill would direct the state to provide menstrual products free of cost in certain public places, including schools, correctional facilities, and shelters and other temporary housing.

“I was proud to support these two initiatives which will bring further access and equity to our state’s health care system,” said Senator Friedman, Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing. “Menstruation should never be stigmatized in any setting and ensuring maternal health care coverage for 12 months after pregnancy is the right thing to do and could even provide life-saving care for new mothers and their children. I am very grateful to my fellow Senators for taking steps to address these very important issues.”

Friedman Legislation Designating July 8th as Massachusetts Emancipation Day a.k.a. Quock Walker Day Passes Senate

BOSTON (02/17/2022) – Today, the Massachusetts Senate passed legislation that would designate July 8th as Massachusetts Emancipation Day, also known as Quock Walker Day. The bill, S.2704, was filed by Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) and would direct the Governor to issue a proclamation commemorating Quock Walker and his legacy each year.

Quock Walker, born to enslaved Black parents in Massachusetts, was the driving force behind the 1783 Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruling that slavery was incompatible with the constitution of the Commonwealth. At 28 years old, after being promised his freedom on multiple occasions, Walker self-emancipated. Shortly after, Walker was found working nearby, was beaten and locked in a barn by his former enslaver, Nathaniel Jennison. Walker sued Jennison for assault and battery and was found to be a free man by a jury of the Worcester County Court of Common Pleas. This ruling was appealed to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court where the decision was upheld. This critical decision served as the precedent that ended slavery in the Commonwealth on constitutional grounds and led to Massachusetts becoming one of the first states in the nation to abolish slavery.

“In light of Quock Walker’s significant place in our state’s history, it is important that we celebrate his achievements by officially and annually marking this monumental step toward abolishing slavery,” said Senator Friedman. “Passing this bill is one of the many ways the Massachusetts Senate is celebrating Black History Month this year, as we work to acknowledge the injustices in our history as well as celebrate our state’s part in setting a nationwide precedent for human rights.… Read more.

Friedman Receives Public Official of the Year Award from the Massachusetts Women’s Bar Association

BOSTON (02/16/2022) – Today, the Women’s Bar Association of Massachusetts (WBA) honored Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) with the organization’s 2022 Public Official of the Year Award during the WBA’s annual Legislative Breakfast. This event, hosted by the WBA’s Legislative Policy Committee (LPC) and held virtually this year, serves as a platform for the WBA to outline its pressing legislative priorities.

WBA President-Elect Kristy Lavigne presented Senator Friedman with the award, citing the senator’s distinguished leadership on policy issues that impact women and children and her unwavering support for women attorneys and women-led organizations like the WBA. Senator Friedman spoke about her passion for advocating for policies that positively impact working families and women and she encouraged constituents and organizations like the WBA to continue to play a proactive advocacy role in the state policymaking process.

“I want to thank the WBA and to all its members for honoring me with this award,” said Senator Friedman, Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing. “The WBA is such a valuable partner in the policymaking process in our state – it’s critically important that women attorneys continue to weigh in on the policy issues that impact them and their clients, because their voices, personal experiences and knowledge can help strong policy become law and stop harmful bills from being passed.”

Senator Friedman also called attention to legislation that she has sponsored, including bills to end sexual harassment in venture capital relationships, bring greater awareness to the dangers of using toxic chemicals in children’s products, and enhance access to appropriate, immediate care for families struggling with mental illness.… Read more.

Senate Passes Friedman-Crafted Pharmaceutical Access, Costs and Transparency (PACT) Act 2022

Bill builds on Senate’s work to reduce prescription drug costs, promote transparency, and increase patient access

BOSTON (02/10/2022) – Today, the Massachusetts Senate passed by a vote of 39-1 An Act relative to Pharmaceutical Access, Costs and Transparency (PACT Act 2022), comprehensive pharmaceutical legislation to address the rapidly increasing cost of prescription drugs and to ensure life-saving medications are affordable, fairly priced and accessible for all consumers. Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) took a lead role in crafting the legislation for the Massachusetts Senate.

“This legislation moves the Commonwealth one step closer to a system that delivers affordable, high quality, and accessible care for our residents,” said Senator Friedman, Senate chair of the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing. “The PACT Act 2022 ensures that more consumers can access prescription drugs at a fair price, by capping out-of-pocket insulin costs, providing relief for certain high-cost drugs, improving patient access to medications and pharmacies of their choice, and enhancing transparency and oversight within the pharmaceutical industry. I thank President Spilka, Chair Rodrigues, my colleagues, and the many stakeholders who helped craft this bill, and I am hopeful that this legislation will be signed into law soon.”

Too often, patients cannot access the medications they need due to high prescription drug prices. The PACT Act 2022 contains enhanced accountability tools to address this and other barriers to care. Currently, Massachusetts cannot effectively identify the drugs that have burdensome costs which prevent patients from being able to afford them. These cost barriers also contribute to unaddressed health issues and often worsen conditions.… Read more.

Senate Unveils Pharmaceutical Access, Costs and Transparency (PACT) Act 2022

Bill builds on Senate’s work to reduce prescription drug costs,  promote transparency, and increase patient access  

BOSTON (02/03/2022) – Today, the Massachusetts Senate unveiled An Act relative to Pharmaceutical Access, Costs and Transparency (PACT Act 2022), comprehensive pharmaceutical cost control legislation aimed at addressing the rapidly increasing costs of prescription drugs. By connecting the need for greater drug price transparency with policies to improve oversight for the pharmaceutical industry, the legislation puts the Senate at the forefront of the state’s efforts to tackle rapidly increasing prescription drug costs. It will also reduce drug costs for patients and lower health care costs overall.  

“No one should ever have to choose between buying life-saving drugs like insulin and being able to pay rent,” said Senate President Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland). “Two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, people are more aware than ever of the need for equitable access to quality health care and being able to afford necessary medication is a key component of this. This bill provides direct relief to consumers and tackles the systematic drivers of high drug prices to reduce health care costs for patients across the Commonwealth. I am proud of the long-standing efforts of the Senate to reform prescription drug costs, particularly those initiated by Senator Cindy Friedman, Chair of the Health Care Financing Committee, and I look forward to getting this bill signed into law.” 

“Our goal for health care is to create a system that delivers affordable, high quality and accessible care to all of our residents,” said Senator Cindy F.Read more.

Senate Passes Bill with Friedman Support to Increase Access to COVID-19 Testing, Vaccines, and Masks

Bill includes several measures to enhance vaccine equity, extends popular COVID measures, including outdoor dining

Today, the Massachusetts State Senate passed a $76 million plan to prevent the further spread of COVID-19 and its variants by providing residents with greater access to tests, vaccines, and masks, prioritizing communities disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic as well as frontline workers. In her role as vice chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means, Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) helped craft the supplemental spending plan, which she also voted in favor of. The plan also provides increased flexibility for unemployment insurance recipients to address overpayments of pandemic unemployment benefits and funds an expanded multi-lingual campaign to notify unemployment claimants of their legal rights. Much of the funding of the bill is expected to be eligible for reimbursement by the federal government.

“I’m proud that this bill makes targeted investments in community organizations that are working hard to get more residents vaccinated and keep them protected from severe illness due to COVID-19,” said Senator Friedman, Senate Vice Chair of the Joint Committee on COVID-19 and Emergency Preparedness and Management. “This bill also begins to address the growing needs of hospitals as they continue to respond to the challenges brought on by this pandemic and the latest surge of the Omicron variant. Thank you to my colleagues in the Senate for expediting this bill so that much-needed funding can go to those in need.”

 The legislation includes a $50 million investment to further increase the availability and encourage usage of both testing and vaccination throughout the state.… Read more.

Friedman Helps Senate Unanimously Pass Homeless ID and Relative Adoption Bills

Bills passed would provide free state IDs to individuals experiencing homelessness, allow adoption by close relatives of an adoptee

(BOSTON–1/13/2022) Today, Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) joined her colleagues in the Massachusetts State Senate to unanimously pass legislation to make state identification more accessible to people experiencing homelessness, as well as legislation to allow adoption by close relatives, which is currently prohibited under state law.

“These bills both work to address some of the biggest hurdles to normalcy that struggling families in the Commonwealth face,” stated Senator Friedman, vice chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means.  “Lack of access to housing should not preclude residents from receiving valid identification and families trying to stay united should not face undue burdens from archaic laws. I was proud to support both bills, and hope that they will be signed into law during this session.”

Currently, a person experiencing homelessness who wishes to obtain a Massachusetts identification (ID) card are faced with prohibitive fees and documentation requirements, including providing proof of a residence that they may not have. An Act to provide identification to youth and adults experiencing homelessness seeks to remedy these burdens by waiving fees for individuals experiencing homelessness. Furthermore, the bill would allow such an ID applicant to meet the proof of residency requirement by presenting documentation that is from an entity providing services in the Commonwealth, such as a homeless shelter, or that shows that the applicant is receiving services provided by the Commonwealth.

Identification cards are necessary for applying to jobs, enrolling in school, interacting with law enforcement, accessing government buildings, opening financial accounts, and many more basic services that many take for granted.… Read more.


“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


Friedman Helps Pass American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), FY21 Surplus Spending Bill

Investments focus on communities hard hit by COVID-19 and supporting the ongoing economic recovery

(BOSTON) On December 3, 2021, Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) joined her colleagues in the Massachusetts Legislature to advance a $4 billion bill to the governor’s desk that directs federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and Fiscal Year 2021 (FY21) surplus funding to assist the Commonwealth’s ongoing economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. With a focus on making equitable investments and prioritizing communities disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, the legislation delivers targeted supports to workers and businesses, and the critical sectors of housing, health care, mental and behavioral health, climate preparedness, education, and workforce development.

“This bill will bring much needed economic relief to residents and communities across Massachusetts,” said Senator Friedman, Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “The $4 billion in investments made at the state and local levels for initiatives like housing and food security, health care services, and aid for businesses and workers, will have an enormously beneficial impact on the many, many people that the pandemic has affected. I am especially proud of the $400 million in funding for our behavioral health system and the $2.7 million in direct aid to the communities in our 4th Middlesex district – both of which I fought hard to secure.”

The bill includes $2.7 million in direct funding to the 4th Middlesex district, including:

  • $350,000 for Lexington public schools for electric school buses and charging infrastructure.
  • $300,000 for the Burlington and Woburn public school systems to develop a pilot program, in partnership with local primary care practices, to deliver primary care health services to low-income children enrolled in public schools.
Read more.