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NASW-MA Priorities in the Senate Health Care Bill (S2190)

Wednesday, November 8, 2017   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Jamie Klufts
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National Association of Social Workers – MA Chapter

Priorities in the Senate Health Care Bill (S2190)

 

As a profession, social workers are committed to serving clients and communities, many of whom are the most vulnerable members of society and we believe that the Senate health care bill (S2190) makes great strides in addressing the social determinants of health that impact the populations social workers serve.

 

Social workers provide essential services to address access to behavioral health, treating substance use disorders and confronting the opioid epidemic, alongside other issues. We are particularly pleased to see several clinical provisions included in the bill such as: expanding access to Telemedicine and In-Home Behavioral Therapy and Management services, as well as examining social determinants as a barrier to adequate medical and mental health care.

 

This bill highlights the evidence-based effectiveness and savings of outpatient behavioral health services and Telehealth. We would be remiss to mention that expanding these services can only be effective when adequately staffed with trained mental health professionals to deliver them.

 

This is why we are honored that Senators Jamie Eldridge and Cindy Friedman also recognize the crucial role social workers play in addressing the social determinants of health by filing Amendment 40 to the Senate health care bill to include the Social Worker Loan Repayment Pilot Program. This program will support trained social workers working with those affected by substance use disorders, including opioids, and other areas of high need. Importantly, this will contribute to keeping these services affordable and accessible while using social workers’ unique “person in the environment” approach to improve access to medical and behavioral health care for those who need it most.

 

We also support several amendments filed by our partners including Amendment 83 sponsored by Senator Cindy Friedman, which would establish a commission to study the implementation of Behavioral Health Urgent Care Centers, with the goal of reducing emergency department admissions for mental health crises. Amendment 143 sponsored by Senator Michael Rodrigues would limit both MassHealth and commercial health insurers to a six-month period for recovering payments (clawbacks) to a behavioral health provider for services completed. Currently insurers have up to two years to recover these payments from providers. By shortening this window, providers will be better able to serve clients.

 

We believe that this bill moves us in the right direction in regards to increasing access to mental health services while reducing costs for individuals.

 


National Association of Social Workers - Massachusetts Chapter
14 Beacon Street, Suite 409, Boston MA 02108
tel: (617)227-9635 fax: (617)227-9877 email: chapter.naswma@socialworkers.org
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