BOSTON (SHNS) – The sounds of a child coming through one of her colleagues’ Zoom squares was the first signal to Sen. Becca Rausch that she had a receptive audience for her testimony on a bill dealing with doctor’s appointments for kids.
“Perhaps this is appropriately timed testimony as I just heard some young kiddos in the background of someone’s Zoom, perhaps yours, Mr. Chair,” she said to Sen. Brendan Crighton. Sure enough, Crighton said, his 2-year-old daughter was home sick and “heckling” him during a hearing of the Joint Committee on Financial Services.
Rausch’s testimony was about a bill (S 723) that would require all insurers in Massachusetts to offer coverage for preventive well child visits once a calendar year rather than annually, which is the practice of many insurers and which Rausch said translates in practice to 12 months plus one day. She said it was a problem before the pandemic that has turned into an even bigger problem now.
“Effectively, this means kids’ pediatric appointments start moving away from their birthdays from the start and they never get back on track. If a scheduling conflict arises and you have to postpone just one appointment, the child never gets back on schedule,” Rausch said. “And when thousands of families postponed routine pediatric care due to a raging deadly global pandemic — which is exactly what happened last year — none of those families can get back on track either.”
The senator had an even more receptive audience than she first realized. Rep. Kate Lipper-Garabedian spoke up after Rausch’s testimony to share her own family’s frustration with trying to schedule an appointment for one of her sons. “It just slipped through the cracks, including because of the pandemic where I didn’t expect that a virtual visit the previous year really counted toward the deductible and so I ended up paying it out of pocket and feeling sort of frustrated,” she said. “So this is an interesting policy idea and it would certainly have assisted my family this past year.”