Bills filed for the 2023-2024 session by Representative Ruth B. Balser
To see the text of all legislation: https://malegislature.gov
H.1966 An Act ensuring access to addiction services
This bill ensures that those men who are civilly committed for treatment under Section 35 because they have a substance use disorder that is deemed to be a serious risk to self or others, will be treated in a healthcare facility and not a correctional facility. Massachusetts has already prohibited sending women to Section 35 programs at correctional facilities. It is time that the same message – that addiction is an illness, not a crime – applies to men, as well.
H.1967 An Act regarding consistent care for addiction rooted in evidence
This bill requires all state and county correctional facilities to provide Medication Assisted Treatment for all substance use disorders and alcohol use disorder. It ensures that the provision of medication is timely, continuous, and available from pretrial detention through post-conviction. The bill also requires that anyone suffering from substance or alcohol use disorder be offered relevant behavioral health counseling.
H.1391 An Act relative to treatment, not imprisonment
This bill ensures that a relapse is recognized as a part of the illness of addiction and not deemed to be a violation of probation. Rather than be incarcerated because of a relapse, the individual, who is on probation, should be required to be in treatment.
H.2985 An Act transferring Bridgewater State Hospital from the Department of Corrections to the Department of Mental Health
This bill places the responsibility for the oversight of Bridgewater State Hospital with the Department of Mental Health, rather than the Department of Corrections.
H.1965 An Act relative to ensuring quality mental health services in state correctional facilities
This bill ensures that the Department of Mental Health has oversight of mental health services in the state prison system.
H.939 An Act to update mental health parity
This bill eliminates the distinction in the Massachusetts mental health parity law between so-called “biologically based disorders” and “non-biologically based disorders” and ensures that all mental health conditions are treated in the same way as all other medical conditions in terms of health insurance coverage. This bill would bring Massachusetts law in line with federal law.
H.940 An Act requiring mental health parity for disability policies
This bill would require that disability policies provide the same benefits for behavioral health disorders as other medical disorders.
H.432 An Act to promote social-emotional learning
This bill requires social-emotional learning to be included in teacher training.
H.936 An Act providing continuity of care for mental health treatment
This bill requires that a health plan pay for the continuation of mental health treatment with a provider in the instance where the consumer changes health plans and their provider is not on the new plan, or if for some other reason the provider is no longer on the provider network, so long as the provider agrees to the terms of the plan.
H.2986 An Act establishing the Psychology Interjurisdictional Compact
This bill authorizes the Governor to execute a compact with other states to regulate the day-to-day practice of telepsychology by psychologists across state boundaries.
H.1164 An Act to ensure MassHealth rate parity for behavioral health inpatient providers
This bill requires Medicaid’s health plans and third-party administrators to reimburse all network inpatient behavioral health providers not less than the MassHealth fee for service per diem rate for inpatient behavioral health care. MassHealth has recently adopted this policy; this bill would codify the policy in statute.
H.1964 An Act to require equitable payment from the Commonwealth
This bill requires that the Executive Office of Health and Human Services ensure that psychiatric hospitals that treat patients who also are clients of state agencies be reimbursed their full negotiated rate when these clients are unable to be discharged because there is no long-term placement currently available.
H.937 An Act relative to transparency of consumer health insurance rights
This bill requires carriers to display certain information on their enrollment cards, including “This health plan is fully-insured, subject to all the laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.” This provides consumers and providers clarity about whether the many vital protection afforded by Massachusetts state laws, including mental health parity, apply to their coverage and about pathways to appeal a denial or seek regulatory assistance.
H.2129 An Act relative to facilitating the utilization of psychologists on the health care team
This legislation amends the Nurse Practice Act to authorize nurses to fill orders issued by psychologists. This does not change the scope of practice for either the nurse or the psychologist.
H.248 An Act establishing senior psychologist licensure
This bill would establish a senior psychologist category of licensure to facilitate the licensure of psychologists who have been licensed and practicing as a psychologist in another state for an extended period of time, but whose paper records of training and education may no longer be available.
H.938 An Act relative to breast cancer screening and early detection
The bill would increase access to women for breast cancer screening and diagnosis by requiring insurance coverage for digital breast tomosynthesis (DBT) and extending insurance coverage for additional screening of patients with dense breast tissue or high risk for cancer. DBT provides a clearer and more accurate view compared to traditional mammography, with higher cancer detection rates and fewer patient recalls for additional testing. 18 states have passed such a mandate, including Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Vermont.
H.941 An Act relative to utilization review
This bill would limit the use of prior authorization and other forms of utilization review by health plans for prescription medications that are generic, that are not controlled substances, and for dosage changes of the same medication, in order to increase access for patients.
H.1165 An Act making technical changes to the Betsy Lehman Center for patient safety and medical error reduction enabling statute
This bill includes technical amendments to clarify that there are no barriers to state agencies agreeing to share their patient safety data with the Betsy Lehman Center, and vice versa.
H.2288 An Act to protect the civil rights and safety of all Massachusetts residents
This bill ensures that Massachusetts will be a safe and welcoming community for immigrants and refugees by prohibiting local and state involvement in federal immigration enforcement, unless required by law. By making clear that there is no local or state involvement with federal immigration enforcement, immigrants will be able to trust public health and public safety authorities in Massachusetts. The US Supreme Court, in declining to take on the case, affirmed the lower court’s ruling that a state is well within its rights to restrict its law enforcement from taking on federal immigration responsibilities.
Public Health & Safety
H.2289 An Act relative to enhanced fire protection in new one- and two-family dwellings
This legislation allows any city or town, by local option adoption, to require the installation of automatic sprinkler systems in new construction of 1- and 2-family homes.
H.2290 An Act relative to fire protection
This bill clarifies the standard for requiring the installation of automatic sprinkler systems in rehabilitated buildings.
H.2130 An Act protecting the health and safety of people in restaurants
This bill would remove the 25-person threshold for requiring that restaurant employees receive training in responding to a choking incident, and instead require that restaurants of any size have the safety requirement. Additionally, the bill removes outmoded methods of responding to a choking incident and requires the DPH to adopt regulations identifying approved methods. Health departments would be required to inform restaurants of their responsibilities under the law.
H.1832 An Act reducing construction noise and ensuring worker safety
This legislation requires that construction vehicles that are otherwise required to have a backup alarm use a white noise backup alarm in compliance with the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations. These alarms, compared to high-pitched beeping alarms, can be used directionally to reduce ambient noise while decreasing alarm fatigue in construction workers. The use of these alarms would reduce noise pollution while improving worker safety.
H.1390 An Act to ensure equitable representation in probate court proceedings involving children
This bill will ensure equitable representation between the parties in Probate Court child custody cases in which a non-custodial, indigent biological parent receives court-appointed counsel, by establishing that the custodial parent or guardian is also entitled to court-appointed counsel, regardless of whether they are indigent.
H.615 An Act to ensure the quality of care in nursing homes
This bill will improve the quality of care provided to nursing home residents by increasing the minimum number of hours of care per resident per day from 3.5 to 4.1, requiring nursing facilities to adopt policies to provide staff and technology to residents to prevent social isolation, and by creating a pathway towards single or double occupancy rooms. This bill has the support of AARP.
H.1166 An Act to address the overuse of temporary nursing service agencies at Massachusetts skilled nursing facilities
This legislation seeks to curb the ballooning costs of temporary nursing agencies at skilled nursing facilities and to direct regulatory amendments (to 101 CMR 345) that establish stronger conflict-of-interest rules, greater transparency, improved oversight, agency worker training requirements, and safe staffing standards. This bill has the support of SEIU1199.
H.616 An Act strengthening the Attorney General’s tools to protect nursing home residents and other patients from abuse and neglect
This bill strengthens the civil enforcement tools used by the Attorney General’s Office to address abuse and neglect of elderly and disabled patients, whether they are cared for at home or in nursing homes. The bill increases the civil penalties that the office can seek for the mistreatment, abuse or neglect of nursing home residents or other covered patients. It also increases the time in which the Attorney General can bring a civil suit from two years to four years. The bill is co-sponsored with Attorney General Campbell.
H.2987 An Act to establish a COVID-19 Remembrance Day
The bill would establish an annual COVID-19 Remembrance Day on March 10th to honor all who died or were stricken and their families from COVID-19.
H.3239 An Act empowering library access to electronic books and digital audiobooks
This bill will ensure that contracts between publishers and libraries for the use of eBooks and digital audiobooks include fair pricing and equitable terms so that libraries can fully meet their standard access and preservation missions.