No deal, but Mariano says negotiators “close” on health care accord

Boston Statehouse

(Nexstar DC photo)

BOSTON (SHNS) – House-Senate negotiators are “close” to a deal on health care legislation dealing with access to telehealth services in Massachusetts, according to one top member of the conference committee.

“We’re close. We’re close. About two, three issues that we’re working on,” Majority Leader Ron Mariano, the House’s lead negotiator on the bill, told the News Service as he left the State House Thursday afternoon.

The Quincy Democrat said some of the “bigger” differences between the House and Senate bills (H 4916 / S 2796) had been “solved,” and there was “mostly a lot of little stuff” to be worked out by the six-lawmaker panel.

Mariano would not discuss specifics of the executive-session talks, but said the group has met around 10 or 12 times. The panel was appointed in July, and as of early October they had not yet held their first meeting.

He also spoke of the difficulty of COVID-era negotiations on Beacon Hill.

“It’s hard to negotiate when you’re on a Zoom call, you know? You don’t get instant feedback. So it’s tough … You end up waiting to see things in print, because you don’t sit across the table and exchange,” he said.

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