Press Statement from Amy Rosenthal, Executive Director of Health Care For All, about an Act Putting Patients First Released by the Massachusetts Senate Today

Thursday, June 18, 2020
For Immediate Release:
Contact Information:
María R. González Albuixech
Director of Communications
Health Care For All
Office: 617-275-2915
Press Statement from Amy Rosenthal, Executive Director of Health Care For All, about an
Act Putting Patients First Released by the Massachusetts Senate Today
"Health Care For All is pleased to support the Patients First Act released today by the Massachusetts Senate, which includes important provisions that expand and ensure continued access to health care, including oral and behavioral health services. 
"HCFA is particularly supportive of extending telehealth provisions that were included in the Governor's Executive Order during the emergency. This legislation would mandate health insurance companies, including MassHealth, to cover telehealth services to the same level as in-person health care services over the next two years. The expansive definition of telehealth includes oral health services, and ensures coverage of audio-only telephone calls, which is a vital step towards bridging the digital divide in Massachusetts. 
"Dental therapy has been a long-standing priority for HCFA, and we are glad to see that this proposed legislation includes language to authorize dental therapists to practice in Massachusetts. Dental therapy is practiced in many other states and offers a vital opportunity to increase access to oral health and dental services for all residents of Massachusetts, and particularly for underserved communities. 
"The bill also contains protections for consumers from unexpected and often unaffordable surprise medical bills. By immediately increasing advanced notification of provider network status and costs, consumers will be less likely to receive surprise bills in the first place. In addition, the bill will prohibit "balance billing" consumers during emergencies and other situations where a consumer unknowingly sought care from an out-of-network provider. It further includes a well-defined process that includes public input for determining payment rates for out-of-network bills. 
"Health Care For All looks forward to working with the legislature to advance these priorities so that patients are put first not only during the pandemic but also in the aftermath."