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Take Action: Senate Mental Health Bill is Important for Social Workers

Wednesday, February 12, 2020  
Posted by: Jamie Klufts
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Senate Mental Health Bill is Important for Social Workers

Please Thanks State Senators and Ask Them to Support Key Amendments


After much thoughtful deliberation, the Massachusetts senate released its mental health bill on February 6: An Act Addressing Barriers to Care for Mental Health (SB2519). The bill is the product of many conversations with organizations, stakeholders, and consumer advocates. NASW-MA was at the table for many key conversations with the legislative champions behind this bill, including Senator Julian Cyr, Senator Cindy Friedman, Senate President Karen Spilka, among others.
The senate mental health bill is an incredibly progressive and forward-thinking piece of legislation that will benefit social workers working in mental health and the clients and communities served by social workers statewide.
Here are key highlights of SB2519:
  • Requires insurance companies to disclose how they set mental health and substance use provider rates, and requires the methodology used for MH/SUD rates be the same as for physical health.
  • Updates the composition of the Social Work Licensing Board and moves the board to the Department of Public Health.
  • Requires behavioral health staff in emergency departments at all times.
  • Requires both MassHealth and private insurers to adopt a standardized credentialing process.
  • Requires payers to reimburse behavioral health trainees in clinical settingsThis provision would help social work trainees significantly! And would help make a social work education possible for more low-income people.
  • Requires those who make decisions about continuing care and utilization review be clinicians in the same disciplines as treating providers.
  • Allows for patients to see both a physical health and behavioral health provider in one day in the same facility. 
  • Creates a pilot program to encourage a more diverse workforce.
  • Creates a pilot program to provide telebehavioral health in rural areas so that children who cannot access therapy can gain access via teleconference.
  • Establishes a special commission of statewide mental health provider and payer groups, and state leaders, to establish a common set of criteria for providers and payers to use in making medical necessity determinations for behavioral health treatment. NASW-MA is seated on this special commission.
One area where we would like to see an amendment is to improve outpatient behavioral health rates. We know this isn't an easy formula to create, but believe it is necessary for parity. So we are working on an amendment (#44) filed for NASW-MA by Sen. Hinds and Sen. Rausch to include behavioral health rate parity in the deliberations of the special commission charged with studying medical necessity determinations.
On February 11 and 12 we are asking you to contact your state senator and let them know what you like about this bill and also ask them to support these amendments:
  • Amendment #44: Outpatient Behavioral Health Access
  • Amendment #12: Student Loan Support for Mental and Behavioral Health Workers
  • Amendment #24: Mental Health Continuity of Care

Contact your state senator now using our pre-drafted email template here!

There are other very positive amendments filed that we would support. Please let us know if you identify other amendments you think are essential we add to our list. Here is the link to the text for each filed amendment.


Thank you for taking action!

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