A Healthy Blog

Massachusetts health care — wonky, with a healthy dose of reality

Children's Mental Health

Parent’s Insurance Doesn’t Guarantee Child Coverage

We have heard over and over about the 9 million American children who are uninsured. However, a new report reveals sheds important light on who are these uninsured kids. Click here for a Washington Post article on the study. According to a study by Dr. Jennifer DeVoe, more than 3.3 million uninsured young people live in households with parents who have health coverage. Despite having their own health insurance, millions of parents across the country are unable to afford “stable, continuous health-care coverage” for their children. Read more »

Difficult Cuts

Yesterday Governor Patrick released his budget cuts, required under state law due to declining revenues. Detailed information is available on the state web site, here. The cuts -- which add up to more than $1 billion -- could not be done without hitting health care programs. Health care is about a third of the state budget, and health care programs took their share of the cuts. Some important priorities were spared, however, and we commend the Governor, Secretary Kirwan and Secretary Bigby for keeping the solid commitment to the success of health reform. Read more »

2008: A Landmark Year For Mental Health Policy

As the federal and state legislative sessions wind down, there was yet another major step forward in the treatment of mental health. On Friday, President Bush signed legislation that included a provision to establish parity between the treatment of mental health disorders and the treatment of physical heath needs. Attached to the bailout package, this provision will help to eliminate some of the artificial distinctions between illnesses of the brain and those of the body. Additionally, by being more open about the treatment of mental illness, we will be able to begin reducing the stigma... Read more »

Children’s Mental Health – A Celebration And A Call To Action

Yesterday at the State House, close to 300 policy makers, advocates, and families touched by mental illness gathered to celebrate the passage and enactment of Chapter 321 of the Acts of 2008 – An Act Relative To Children’s Mental Health. Governor Patrick, Senate President Murray, and Speaker DiMasi all spoke about the impressive achievement it was to secure the passage of such a large piece of legislation in the first session it was introduced. They credited in large degree the broad coalition that was created in the form of the Children’s Mental Health Campaign. Read more »

Governor, Legislators, Advocates, Families to Celebrate Kid's Mental Health

Last month, Governor Patrick signed Chapter 321 of the Acts of 2008 into law. Chapter 321 will significantly improve Massachusetts’ children’s mental health system by expanding early identification of mental illness, providing schools resources to help students with mental disorders, expanding insurance protections, and restructuring state systems to encourage better coordination and communication. Read more »

Children’s Mental Health Legislation Signed into Law

Yesterday, Governor Deval Patrick completed the final step to make An Act Relative To Children’s Mental Health law by signing the legislation (News Tribune story here). Chapter 321 of the Acts of 2008 will make significant changes to the children’s mental health system in Massachusetts that will improve the lives of tens of thousands of young people living with mental illness. Chapter 321 will provide resources to schools and early education setting that will help students with mental illnesses, reduce the rate of children stuck in inappropriate treatment settings, expand early identification... Read more »

A Giant Leap Forward For Mental Health

This morning, the Legislature passed legislation that will make life a little easier for the 140,000 young people in Massachusetts who are living with mental illness. In approving An Act Relative To Children’s Mental Health and sending it to Governor Patrick for his signature, the House and Senate recognized that the children’s mental health system in the Commonwealth is broken and in need of reform. Thanks in large part to the leadership of Representative Ruth Balser and Senator Steven Tolman, this bill achieved what very few pieces of legislation are able to accomplish: passage during the... Read more »

Mental Health Progress on Two Fronts

This week was remarkable in terms of legislative progress in improving treatment of mental illness in Massachusetts. On Wednesday, Governor Patrick signed Mental Health Parity legislation into law at the State House. This legislation, which was introduced by Representative Ruth Balser, expands treatment coverage for eating disorders, substance abuse, post traumatic stress disorder, and autism. In addition to improving treatments for these specific conditions, the legislation will help remove some of the stigma that still unfortunately exists around mental illness. Advocates both inside and... Read more »

Last Dance, Last Dance, for L..........legislation

Today's the last day of the formal legislative session. Like every two years, the final days are a blur of activity as the House and Senate rush to get through an agenda that can't all fit in the time left. Both branches worked to midnight last night, and will again tonight. Here's where the key HCFA priorities stand: Health Cost and Quality: Yesterday both the House and Senate appointed a formal conference Committee to tie up the differences between the two bills. The House conferees are Representatives Walrath, Bosley and Hargraves; on the Senate side are Senators Moore, Panagiotakos, and... Read more »

Just Do It: The End-of-Session Legislative Agenda

The legislature turns into a pumpkin at midnight, Thursday, with the end of formal sessions. Legislation can still pass during the informal sessions which will continue through the end of the year, but anything controversial has to get through both branches by July 31. HCFA is working on a number of bills that have passed one or both houses, waiting final approval. With just a few days left, we urge the House and Senate to prioritize the following bills: Oral Health Initiative: S. 2819 is the historic oral health omnibus bill, which unifies dentists, dental hygienists, dental assistants and... Read more »

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