Senate Budget Process Starting - Call Your Senator on these Key Amendments
The Massachusetts State Senate will vote on its version of the state budget starting on Tuesday, May 24. Massachusetts uses a fiscal year that starts on July 1, so this budget starts in just a few weeks. The budget allocates funds for state programs, such as MassHealth and the Department of Public Health, and sets state policies in many areas. You can read a detailed summary of the budget from the Mass Budget and Policy Center here.
Senators have proposed over 1100 amendments to the budget which will be considred over the course of the debate, which should last 3 or more days. A number of these would strengthen the state’s health care system, and are supported by HCFA. A list of these amendment is below. Please call or email your State Senator today, in support of these amendments (go to WhereDoIVoteMA.com to look up your Senator). Your voice makes a real difference. We heard from a state legislator last week that just a few calls into his office can change his priorities.
Here's the list of HCFA priority amendments:
Protect Health Safety Net Eligibility & Funding
The Health Safety Net (HSN) reimburses hospitals and community health centers for providing care to low-income uninsured and underinsured Massachusetts residents. Recent eligibility cuts and funding reductions impose barriers to care for individuals without access to affordable health coverage. You can download a fact sheet on the program cuts and the amendment for more information.
- Support Sen. Lewis’s amendment (#369; EHS category) to protect Health Safety Net eligibility and continue investing $30 million in the program, ensuring continued access to care for low-income uninsured and underinsured residents.
Ensure Access to Oral Health Services for People with Disabilities
Individuals living with disabilities have particular oral health needs, including adaptive facilities and equipment, as well as providers with specialized training. See this fact sheet on the issue.
- Support Sen. Lovely’s amendment (#474; EHS category) to allocate an additional $500,000 for the dental program for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (line item 4512-0500).
Expand Access to Dental Care
One in ten Massachusetts residents does not have access to a regular dental provider. Further, only 35% of dental providers accept MassHealth, making it even harder for vulnerable populations to access basic dental care. Dental care must be more easily accessible. More information is available on this fact sheet.
- Support Sen. Chandler’s amendment (#479; EHS category) to establish a new mid-level dental provider, a Dental Hygiene Practitioner, which would expand access to basic dental services for the most underserved parts of the state.
Ensure Homeless Families’ Access to Nutritious Meals
Families who live in hotels and motels often don’t have a way to keep food fresh, and can’t cook or store nutritious meals. Families without access to nutritious meals are affected in many ways, like children being unable to focus in classes, and parents going hungry to feed their children. This also leads to higher health care costs. More details are on this fact sheet.
- Support Sen. Montigny’s amendment (#14; Other Category) to create a special commission to study the need for and methods to provide nutritious meals to families in temporary housing in hotels and motels.
Protect Substance Exposed Newborns and those with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome
Preventing long-term side effects in newborns who have been exposed to harmful chemicals is an important aspect of children’s overall health and wellbeing. An interagency taskforce can gather information, and establish plans to improve care for newborns who have been exposed to harmful substances which compromise their health. See this fact sheet for more information
- Support Sen. Flanagan’s amendment (#500; EHS category) to establish an interagency taskforce focused on the health of vulnerable newborns.
Invest in Oral Health
Charged with preventing dental disease and improving oral health in all Massachusetts communities, the Office of Oral Health at the Department of Public Health (DPH) is an essential component of our state’s public health infrastructure. More information is available on this fact sheet.
- Support Sen. Brady’s amendment (#613; EHS category) to adequately fund the DPH Office of Oral Health (line item 4512-0500).
Increase Funding for Early Intervention
Early Intervention is an integral part of helping children develop the skills they will need to become healthy and happy.
- Support Sen. Lovely’s amendment (#467; EHS category) to increase Early Intervention funding.