House orders DMH to furnish bed availability data

Boston Statehouse

A hospital bed (Nexstar, file).

BOSTON (SHNS) – The Massachusetts House voted late Tuesday to require the Department of Mental Health to publish monthly data on adult and pediatric bed availability at in-patient continuing care facilities under its supervision.

Under the amendment to the $46.7 billion state budget bill, the department would also be required to update the list it keeps of patients in acute psychiatric facilities who are awaiting placement into continuing care by tracking how long each patient has waited and how many are waiting to get into each location.

The measure was included an in a unanimously approved $11.1 million mega-amendment (Consolidated Amendment D),adding spending to the budget in the areas of public health, mental health and disability services.

The amendment, hashed out during private Zoom deliberations among representatives, bundled together dozens of proposed changes to the House’s $47.6 billion fiscal year 2022 budget.

Another provision of the amendment tasks the Massachusetts Autism Commission with studying the pandemic’s impact on people of color who have been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder and recommending how to address inequities. The researchers would face a Jan. 1, 2022 reporting deadline.

Reps. Adrian Madaro of East Boston and Marjorie Decker of Cambridge spoke about the amendment Tuesday night, focusing mostly on the budget’s broader investments in mental health, disability and public health supports.

“Throughout the pandemic, many have struggled with the mental health effects of losing loved ones, employment, and traditional support systems as well as the impacts of the public health emergency,” Madaro said, describing the urgency of increasing funding for mental health and substance use and recovery services.

The amendment features numerous earmarks intended to steer funding for mental health supports, substance use treatment, domestic violence, and sexual assault response and prevention, and youth services to local programs.

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