NAMI Massachusetts 2013 Legislative Priorities
Over time, sustained cuts to the Department of Mental Health’s budget have adversely impacted the quality of services and spread already limited resources thin. Oftentimes, the difference between timely access to acute services is life or death, and the lack of consistent and universally available DMH resources is unacceptable. The Commonwealth must expand community-based services for individuals with serious psychiatric conditions. The Governor’s FY2014 Budget is a step in the right direction. It provides a 3.3% increase to the DMH Budget. This modest gain must grow in the legislature’s budget deliberations if we are to ensure that more children, adolescents, adults and seniors will begin the journey to recovery. Anything less, is a recipe for disaster.
NAMI Mass has launched an ambitious project to prevent or divert individuals from becoming involved in the criminal justice system when their mental health crisis causes problematic but non-violent behaviors. This approach has been proven to reduce both human and economic costs. Growing this program is a high priority for NAMI as we see a great need to bolster approaches that promote access to mental health treatment rather than arrest or jail. People living with mental illnesses can recover and live successfully in the community when they have access to community based services.
This more than doubles the present budget for training of law enforcement and other community-based responders. It also bolsters approaches that promote access to mental health treatment rather than arrest or jail, and provides resources to develop prevention and intervention programs. NAMI Mass will advocate for expanded funding for these necessary and effective training services.
Filed by Senator James Timilty this bill will consistently and adequately fund police training through an automobile insurance surcharge. This surcharge will fund two programs: the Municipal Police Training Committee (MPTC) and an annual state police class.
This surcharge applies to private auto insurance policies at a rate of $2.50 – $2.75 per policy per year or 21-23 cents per month, and would generate enough revenue to sustain consistent and adequate training in both programs.
Filed by Representative Ruth Balser to require commercial insurance companies to pay for behavioral health emergency services provided by emergency services providers (ESP) across the state. Currently, individuals on MassHealth are covered by ESP providers but many people with private health insurance do not have access to ESPs. NAMI Mass believes this is wrong and must be corrected.
By requiring all commercial insurers doing business in Massachusetts to provide and pay for ESP services, this bill would reach every person residing in Massachusetts who is having a psychiatric crisis
Filed by Representative Ruth Balser, this bill would eliminate discrimination by long term disability insurers against people with mental illness. These companies that sell long term disability insurance are allowed to arbitrarily end LTD benefits to those with mental illness after two years. That same policy for those with a physical illness provides coverage until 65 or until their doctor says they no longer have the physical disability or condition.
This legislation requires all LTD policies sold in Massachusetts to cover mental illness the same way that psychical illnesses are covered. Leveling the playing field eliminates discrimination that currently exists in the insurance industry.
Find Your Legislators:
To find who your legislators are or where to vote call 617-722-2000
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