“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has” – Margaret Meade
NAMI Massachusetts 2015 Legislative Priorities
Restore Funding to the Department of Mental Health
Over the past decade, the Commonwealth has made significant cuts in excess of $55 Million to the DMH budget. Despite increases we have fought for and won over the past two budget years, Massachusetts still ranks among the lowest New England states in terms of mental health funding. Without a significant and sustained commitment to increased funding, thousands of families in Massachusetts will lose access to appropriate services. For FY2016, NAMI will be requesting a significant increase over FY2015 levels to ensure access is available to all.
House Docket #789 – An Act Requiring Mental Health Parity for Disability Policies: Sponsored by Representative Ruth Balser
This legislation eliminates the discriminatory practice that allows insurance companies to end long-term disability benefits for people with mental illness after two years, even as policies for those with a physical illness provide coverage while a person is under the care of a doctor and until age 65.
Senate Docket # 682 – An Act Relative to Police Training: Sponsored by Senator Jason Lewis
This bill dramatically increases funding for training of police officers and requires that all future training include enhanced mental health components and specific Crisis Intervention Training (CIT). It creates an automobile insurance surcharge costing consumers less than 25 cents a month that will generate enough revenue to sustain consistent and adequate training through the Municipal Police Training Committee (MPTC) and the State Police.
Senate Docket # 894 & House Docket #804 – An Act to Require Health Care Coverage or the Emergency Psychiatric Services: Sponsored by Senator Kenneth Donnelly and Representative Ruth Balser
These two bills are identical and each requires commercial insurance companies to pay for behavioral health emergency services provided by emergency services providers (ESPs) across the state. Presently, children and adults who receive MassHealth benefits are covered by ESP providers but unfortunately, most children and adults with private health insurance are not. This must change.
Senate Docket # 963 – An Act Relative to Mental Health Certified Peer Specialists: Sponsored by Senator James Eldridge
This legislation requires MassHealth to cover certified peer specialist services, provided that said certified peer specialist has completed training that teaches participating peers specific skills relevant to providing peer support to other peers.
Increase Reimbursement Rates for Behavioral Health Care Providers
Behavioral health services have been chronically under-reimbursed by MassHealth. As a result, low income and disabled MassHealth members needing these services suffer badly because many psychiatric hospital beds have closed as well as mental health clinics. Behavioral health professionals should not have to choose between dropping out of MassHealth or working on the financial margins. NAMI Mass members and constituents are dependent on having adequate, high quality services. Therefore, increasing behavioral health reimbursement is a top NAMI Mass priority. NAMI will seek comprehensive remedies to these problems in the FY2016 budget that increases MassHealth funding and incentivizes providers to ensure adequate access to these critical services throughout the Commonwealth.
NAMI Massachusetts Position Papers:
The Massachusetts Mental Health System is Critically Underfunded (PDF) 2011 NAMI Mass Position Paper
Massachusetts Emergency Behavioral Health Services Program NAMI Mass final 2010 position paper
Find Your Legislators:
To find who your legislators are or where to vote call 617-722-2000