Mental Health Coalition Update 189th General Court (2015-2016)

MAAPPN has long been an active participant in the Mental Health Coalition and attends the monthly meetings on your behalf! The Mental Health Coalition consists of representatives from the provider, advocacy and health care systems groups as well as representatives from DMH and policy organizations (for a complete list see the end of this post). The work of the group is to identify areas of shared concern for legislation, policy or regulatory issues that we might work together on to advance mental health and substance abuse practice and policy issues in the state.
As the 189th General Court comes to a close MAAPPN looks ahead to the next 2 year legislative session (the 190th).  If you have an issue for the Mental Health Coalition please forward your thoughts to Kathy Andolina at

Next Meeting: Weds July 20th 9 am – 11:30 AM

Location: 14 Beacon St, Suite 409, Boston, MA  

Bill Updates
MAAPPN and MH Coalition to meet with Speaker DeLeo June 22….
Anti-Clawback H. 925 
An Act to limit retroactive denials of health insurance claims for mental health and substance abuse services.
Currently, health insurers are able to retroactively collect payments to providers even if the services were initially approved by the insurer. Some of these retroactive claims denials occur years after the service was rendered and the claim was submitted to the insurer. We are supporting H. 925 to rectify this situation and limit “clawback” or retroactive claims denial to six months from the submission of the claim.  Bill Sponsors and Primary Sponsor:  James J. O’Day This Bill sits in:Joint Committee on Financial Services

Status: Coalition and providers have a meeting with Speaker DeLeo on Weds June 22, at 2PM to urge action on this bill.     

Opiate Bill Passes…
Bill H.4056 was signed by the Governor in MArch and establishes a number of actions aimed at reducing opioid deaths in MA including educational, reporting and practice changes such as:
  • provision allowing pharmacists to dispense fewer tablets then ordered
  • the use of a voluntary “non-opiate directive form” for patients who can not then be offered or prescribed opiates
  • strengthened patient education re: risks, benefits, alternative discussions
  • limiting first time prescriptions of opiates for NO MORE THEN 7 days
  • mandatory use of the “Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP)
  • data reporting to identify patterns in providers who are prescribing opiates
  • mandatory substance abuse evaluations for ER patients having received naloxone
Status: Passed
Telemedicine H. 267
An Act advancing and expanding access to telemedicine services 
This bill is about access to telemedicine services by allowing certain clinicians to be credentialed and allowing for coverage of such services by all payers and the Medicaid program. The Mental Health Coalition has been researching this issue for the past year and a half. We have sought consultation from the New England Telehealth Resource center (NETRC) and reviewed model legislation as well as laws passed in other states. The Coalition concurs that any telehealth bill should pertain to MA licensed providers, reimburse for services equal to in-person rates, be free from geographical restrictions and use updated terminology that recognizes multidisciplinary providers.  There are a number of telehealth bills before the legislature at this time. The Coalition has been primarily focused on H 267. Bill Sponsors:  Primary Sponsor: John W. Scibak This bill sits in: Joint Committee on Health Care Financing
Status:  Reporting Date extended to June 22, 2016  
Continuity of Care H.785
An Act relative to the continuity of care of mental health treatment
A carrier shall allow any insured who is engaged in a continuing course of treatment with a licensed mental health provider eligible for coverage under the plan, and whose provider in connection with said mental health treatment is involuntarily or voluntarily disenrolled, other than for quality-related reasons or for fraud, or whose carrier has changed for any reason thereby placing the provider out-of-network, to continue treatment with said provider through an out-of-network option….  Bill Sponsors; Primary Sponsor: Ruth B Balser.  This bill sits in Joint Committee on Financial Services:
Status: Ordered into study on 3/28/16.
Conversion Therapy Bill H.97
An Act relative to abusive practices to change sexual orientation and gender identity in minors.
This bill prohibits any licensed MH or human service professional from using therapeutic practices to change a minor’s sexual orientation or gender identity. AND requires mandatory reports to report cases of suspected us of conversion therapy AND defines advertisements as deceptive practices which violate consumer protection laws. DOES NOT APPLY over 18 yo, non-licensed, faith based counselors. Bill Sponsors:  Primary Sponsor: Rep Kay Khan This bill sits in:Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities
Status:  Jan 2016 put in for a second reading.
Parity H.786
An Act requiring mental health parity for disability policies
Mental Health Law Advocates have taken the lead on this issue for years. Parity laws say that health insurance companies must cover mental health and addiction treatment at least to the extent that they cover treatment for physical health conditions. MA is subjected to two sets of laws (State and federal) –  H.786 asks that the federal laws be followed. Even with biologically based disorders – coverage for medically necessary treatments such as  ART, may not be covered under the current law. H786 mandates that plans continue coverage for children and adolescents for therapies r/t non-biologically based disorders as well. H 786 further addresses how co-pays and deductibles for MH services cant be more restrictive then for medical/surgical services AND # of visits and PA requirements can not be more restrictive.  Bill Sponsors: Primary Sponsor: Rep. Ruth B. Balser This bill sits in:Joint Committee on Financial Services

Status: Put into study.

Other Bills/Issues being monitored:
An Act relative to insurance coverage for PANDAS/PANS.  Sponsors: Primary Sponsor: John W. Scibak This bill sits in: Joint Committee on Financial Services
Status: Put into study March, 2016
An Act prohibiting the participation of healthcare professionals in the torture and abuse of prisoners. Bill Sponsors; Primary Sponsor: Michael S. Day; This bill sits in: Joint Committee on Public Health
Status: Reporting date extended to June 30, 2016
Regulatory Reform and State Agency Monitoring
The Mental Health Coalition participates in efforts to address regulatory reform  and policy advocacy which require strategies such as forming advisory task forces and out reach. The Mental Health Coalition debates whether to act individually or as a group when addressing efforts promoted by these agencies.
Department of Mental Health (Steve Cidlevich) Budget for FY2017 $320 million shortfall in expected revenues for the state means anticipated cuts to Housing, Hospital and Emergency Services.  The MH Coalition will be drafting a letter to the House and Senate leaders advocating funding recommendations.
One Care Mass Health and Medicare: Susan Fendell, Senior Attorney,Mental Health Legal Advisors Committee encourages member groups to participate in webinar (see below) which emphasizes the need for patients to have choice in who has access to their mental health information. Spirited debate on issues of “silos’, anosognosia and over-reliance on providers who do not have all the information to make safe treatment decision.

Webinar: Promoting Behavioral Health Privacy Principles within One Care

Date: June 14, 2016
Time: Noon – 1:00 PM
This webinar will describe how the stigma associated with behavioral health can affect access to care and share principles and practices identified by the Behavioral Health Privacy Workgroup to promote the use of behavioral health privacy principles within the One Care model.
The Behavioral Health/EHR Task Force
Task Force advises Sec. Mary Lou Sudders on information highway
MAAPPN is participating in a work group with other providers and lead by Midge Williams, MaMHCA.  The task force is charged with advising HHS Secretary Mary Lou Sudders on  issues, barriers and recommendations for how providers can connect to the information highway and integrate behavioral health and primary care.
The report is due by  June 15, 2016.  Recommendations include provisions for financial support for training, technology standards, identification of data that is appropriate and necessary to share, how to handle and prevent breaches, how to monitor compliance and scale of practice issues.  The Task Force is strongly recommending that the deadline of implementation (January 1, 2017) be pushed out due ot concern for it being an unrealistic goal.
Federal Initiatives for Mental Health,  Substance Abuse and Public Safety
The Mental Health Coalition recognizes that while our efforts are primarily focused on Massachusetts, there national initiatives that have all but stalled.  The Coalition has reached out to federal legislators to seek ways to work together on federal legislation such as gun regulation and mental health and substance abuse issues of concern at both state and federal levels. The Coalition will be involving legislators like:
Rep Joseph Kennedy III whose initiatives include:
Members, Mental Health Coalition
Kathy Andolina,  RN, CS, PC
Massachusetts Association of Advanced Practice Psychiatric Nurses (MAAPPN)
638 Main St #243
Walpole, MA 02180
Stephen Cidlevich
Director of Constituent Affairs
25 Staniford Street
Boston, MA 02114
Vicker V. DiGravio, III
Mental Health and Substance Abuse Corporations of Massachusetts, Inc.
251 West Central Street, Suite 21
Natick, MA 01760
Brian Doherty, MPA
Massachusetts Psychological Association
195 Worcester St., Suite 303
Wellesley, MA 02481
Susan Fendell, Senior Attorney
Supreme Judical Court
Comm. Of Massachusetts
Mental Health Legal Advisors Committee
24 School Street, 8th Floor
Boston, MA 02108
Michael A. Goldberg, Ph.D.
Acting Director of Professional Affairs, Past-President
Massachusetts Psychological Association
195 Worcester Street, Suite 303
Wellesley, MA 02481
169 Libbey Parkway, Second Floor
East Weymouth, MA 02189
Jonas Goldenberg
NASW MA Chapter
14 Beacon Street, Suite 409
Boston, MA 02108
Anuj K. Goel, Esq.
Vice President, Legal and Regulatory Affairs
Massachusetts Hospital Association
500 District Avenue
Burlington, MA 01803-5096
Mary Grant, Health Policy
American Nurses Association Massachusetts
P.O. Box 285
Milton, MA 02186

Diane Jeffery
MARN (Mass Association of Registered Nurses)
P.O. Box 285
Milton, MA 02186
Lisa Lambert
Parent Professional Advocacy League
45 Bromfield Street,10th Floor
Boston, MA 02108
Danna Mauch, President and CEO
Massachusetts Mental Health Association
50 Federal Street, 6th Floor
Boston, MA 02110
Bruce Maloof
171 Swanton St Unit 77
Winchester, MA 01980
David Matteodo, (MABHS)
The Massachusetts Association of Behavioral Health Systems
115 Mill Street MS 102
Belmont, MA 02478
Anne Manton
Donna Mauch, MMHA
PhD, President and CEO,
Massachusetts Mental Health Association
50 Federal Street,6th Floor
Boston, MA 02110
Laurie Martinelli
NAMI – Mass
The Schrafft Center
529 Main St #1M17,
Boston, MA 02129
Christine Poff, Director of Government Relations and Political Action
NSW MA Chapter
14 Beacon St., Suite 409
Boston, MA 02108
Lisa Simonetti
MA Psychiatric Society
860 Winter Street
Waltham, MA 02451
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 549154
Waltham, MA 02454-9154
Carol J. Trust, Exec Director
NASW MA Chapter
14 Beacon Street, Suite 409
Boston, MA 02108
Midge Williams
17 Cocasset Street
Foxboro, MA 02035
Joe Weeks, LMHC,
President, MaMHCA
17 Cocasset Street
Foxboro, MA 02035
Jennifer Warkentin, Director of Professional Affairs
Massachusetts Psychological Association
195 Worcester St., Suite 303
Wellesley, MA 02481
Jonas Goldenberg
NASW MA Chapter
14 Beacon Street, Suite 409
Boston, MA 02108
updated 6/2016





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