BOSTON (WWLP) – Governor Baker has acted on the bills the legislature sent to him by the July 31st deadline. On Tuesday, he held a ceremonial bill signing for a sweeping mental health bill.
Last week, the Governor signed a comprehensive mental health bill into law that will help break down barriers to access. The Mental Health ABC Act, Addressing Barriers to Care, was passed unanimously in the House and Senate, and was sent to conference committee to work out the differences. Once it emerged from conference, both chambers voted to accept the report, sending it to Governor Baker’s desk for signature.
The bill aims to reform how mental health care is obtained and delivered in the Commonwealth with the goal that everyone who needs mental health care will be able to receive it.
“I think the COVID-19 pandemic really revealed for so many that you know, mental health care isn’t just this nice to have thing, but that it’s absolutely essential and it needs to be treated as essential as any other healthcare, and that’s what this now law does,” said Senator Julian Cyr of Provincetown.
It takes specific aim at emergency room boarding, and requires ER’s to have a behavioral health clinician available. It will also create an online portal to speed up care for patients.
The legislation sets to improve treatment accessibility for young people by requiring behavioral health assessments for children entering the foster care system.
Coverage for a mental health wellness exam, similar to a yearly physical, will also be made possible by this bill. The bill will also increase access to care in geographically isolated areas.