Legislative Priorities
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.

We are now in the second year of this session  – bills have had hearings and many have been reported out of their committees. There have been significant “wins” already – including the passage of the Ghost Networks bill.

In February 2020, the Senate passed S2519 – the Mental Health ABC bill addressing barriers to care. The Attorney General’s office announcement settlements with five insurers improving parity enforcement. We are keeping the momentum going by adjusting our focus to the areas listed below.

Group of diverse hands holding each other
Access to Care

NAMI members and families are often on the front lines of dealing with our mental health system and encountering the barriers to accessing mental health services.

  • S2546 An Act addressing barriers to care for mental health passed in the Senate on Feb 13, 2020 addresses many parity enforcement issues including,
    • Enforcement and strengthening of mental health parity laws including timely investigation of complaints and penalties
    • Reforms to medical necessity and prior authorization requirements so that clinicians have a bigger role in determining the medical necessity of treatment
    • Parity for insurance coverage of Emergency Service Providers so that private insurers cover the use of their services  (standalone bills H909/S590)
    • Ensures that emergency departments have the capacity at all times to evaluate and stabilize a person admitted with mental health conditions
    • A study to review the availability of culturally competent mental health care providers within networks of both public and private health care insurers
    • Coverage for same day care of both mental health and physical health treatment
  • H907/S55 An Act relative to the continuity of care of mental health treatment is an important bill allowing individuals to keep seeing their clinician at in-network rates even if they move out-of-network.
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.

  • S2413 An Act to provide criminal justice reform protections to all prisoners in segregated confinement 

    Sets limits on placing prisoners with mental health conditions into solitary confinement.This bill would prohibit placing prisoners with mental health conditions into any segregated or solitary units except for secure treatment units and mental health watch units. These units would allow prisoners enhanced access to out of cell time, visitation rights, education programs and access to mental health services. It would require that a prisoner be sent to clinical care at a specialized hospital if they have a serious risk of self-harm after 72 hours in a mental health watch unit. The correctional officers in these units would receive special training on mental health conditions and the units would be directed by a clinical staff person as well as a corrections person.

Funding for Mental Health services

NAMI Mass commits to advocating for additional funding for vital services including budget increases for supported housing and children’s mental health.

  • DMH Rental Subsidy Program (DHCD 7004-9033)
  • Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program (MRVP, Line Item 7004-9024)
  • Alternative Housing Voucher Program (AHVP, Line Item 7004-9030)
  • DMH Child and Adolescent Services (5042-5000)