BOSTON (WWLP) – Lawmakers pulled an all-nighter at the end of session to get final pieces of legislation to Governor Baker’s desk. One dealing with mental health care passed just in time.
The Senate and House both passed the Mental Health ABC Act unanimously, the Senate in November and the House in June. Both chambers also voted to accept the conference report once it emerged from committee, sending it to Governor Baker’s desk for signature.
The comprehensive 114 page bill sets out to reform how mental health care is delivered in the state. It takes aim at emergency room boarding for mental health needs. It requires emergency room’s to have a behavioral health clinician available and creates an online portal to speed up care for patients. The bill takes specific notice of minors and it creates an expedited evaluation and stabilization process for them.
“So much of this bill is addressing the red tape that allows this boarding to happen, allows this treatment to not occur, getting rid of that red tape and streamlining was a big part of the intent behind this bill and I think it was incredibly successful in doing that.” said Senator John Velis of Westfield.
Insurers would also need to cover an annual mental health wellness exam, similar to yearly physicals.
On the flip side, it also incentivizes people to enter the mental health field by creating an interim licensure level for licensed mental health counselors so they can be reimbursed and qualify for loan forgiveness.
The bill now sits on the Governor’s desk for his review.