Legislative Priorities for the 191st General Court Session

2019-2020 Legislative Session

For each two-year legislative session, NAMI Massachusetts works with state-wide affiliates and advocacy partners to determine our legislative priorities for the upcoming session. This is a combination of consensus around specific concerns and opportunity for making change.

These priorities can be shared with your legislator. Download this summary sheet.

Housing

The lack of appropriate and affordable housing is a top concern for NAMI Massachusetts members based on responses to our “Dream Big Together” activities.  We commit to supporting legislation and budgetary initiatives that expand access to affordable housing, increase funding for DMH housing, and address homelessness in the Commonwealth.

NAMI Mass is working closely with the Massachusetts Association for Mental Health (MAMH) on line item 5046-0000. The governor level funded this item in support of the DMH Rental Housing Subsidy, MAMH is hoping for an additional $1M in the budget this year which would provided for new housing subsidy vouchers for approximately 80 people.  Read the Fact Sheet to learn more.

Update 7/31/19:

The FY 20 Budget was signed by Governor Baker on July 31, 2019. The budget included new funding for the DMH Rental Subsidy under DHCD line item 7004-9033. This additional funding of $1 million will help support housing for approximately 80 homeless individuals with serious mental illness.

Group of diverse hands holding each other
Mental Health Parity

Many of the issues facing NAMI Mass members, such as access to services and workforce concerns, could be addressed by strengthening mental health parity in Massachusetts.

  • H. 910/ S.588 An Act relative to mental health parity implementation: Rep. Balser/Sen. Friedman
    Read the Fact Sheet to learn more.
  • H. 909 / S.590 An Act to require health care coverage for the emergency psychiatric services: Rep. Balser/Sen. Friedman
    Read the Fact Sheet to learn more.

Update 7/31/19:

NAMI Mass and other advocates testified in front of the Joint Committee on Financial Services on June 6, 2019. The committee had not issued their report on these 4 bills (parity & ESP) before the August recess.

However, another parity-related bill – frequently referred to as the Ghost Networks bill (H913/S610An Act to increase consumer transparency about insurance provider networks) was reported favorably from both Financial Services and Healthcare Finance. Several NAMI advocates testified at the Financial Services hearing.

On July 25th, the Senate unanimously passed the Ghost Networks bill and on July 31, similar language to address the accuracy and transparency of provider directories passed the House as part of H. 4012, the Children’s Health Wellness Act!  A conference committee will now be formed to deliberate between the two versions. This is an important step forward in the effort to mandate improvements to insurance provider directories – stay tuned in the fall for continued updates.
Criminal Justice Reform

NAMI Mass supports efforts to reduce unnecessary arrest and incarceration of people diagnosed with mental health conditions and the humane treatment of all people in the criminal justice system.

  • H. 1698/ S.1135 An Act to transfer Bridgewater State Hospital from the Department of Corrections to the Department of Mental Health: Rep. Balser/Sen. Creem
    Read the Fact Sheet to learn more.
Children's Mental Health Care

NAMI Mass will support legislation and budgetary initiatives that will improve the quality and availability of mental health services for children and young adults. We are partnering with the Children’s Mental Health Campaign on

  • H. 1736/ S.1154 An Act to protect children’s mental health services: Rep. Malia/Sen. Keenan Read the Fact Sheet to learn more.
Funding for the Department of Mental Health

NAMI Mass commits to advocating for additional funding for vital DMH services including budget increases for supported housing.

Update 7/31/19:

The FY20 budget had several important items for behavioral health in the Commonwealth

  • $10 million for a new Behavioral Health Trust Fund. The trust fund will support a loan forgiveness program for behavioral health workers and a public awareness campaign to reduce the stigma around mental illness.
  • Under the DMH Adult Services & Supports, $3M –  shall be expended to expand the jail diversion program to include a crisis intervention team.  Not less than $500K of the $3M shall be transferred to the center for police training in crisis intervention
  • DMH Administration and Operations was increased by $1.1M