Bill would expand mental health care services – CBS Boston

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BOSTON (AP) — Gov. Charlie Baker on Tuesday unveiled a bill he says would help expand access to primary care and mental health services and help control rising health care and health care costs. prescription drugs.

The Republican detailed the legislation during a stop at a health care center in Boston’s Dorchester neighborhood.

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Baker said the state has unfinished business when it comes to expanding access to health care in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

He said the bill aims to increase investment in behavioral health care services, control factors that drive up health care costs, and improve access to coordinated, high-quality care for people with multiple health problems.

“The pandemic has demonstrated that while our healthcare system is doing a lot of things very well – and fortunately we have all seen it firsthand every day – we still have a number of important problems and issues that we need to address. “, did he declare.

One of the key remaining challenges is to ensure that those who need behavioral health care services are treated equally with those who have physical health care needs.

The bill would require health care providers and payers to increase spending on primary care and behavioral health by 30% over three years, with the initial performance period ending in 2024.

“I don’t think I’ve found anyone in Massachusetts who thinks we have enough people playing in the behavioral health space to care for people trying to access services,” Baker said, adding that the The state “had issues with accessing these services before the pandemic.

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Amy Rosenthal, executive director of the nonprofit Health Care For All, welcomed the bill, saying it could help increase access to medicines by reducing costs.

“We need to curb rising prescription drug prices so that individuals and families can afford their treatments and aren’t forced to choose between putting food on the table or paying for their medications,” Rosenthal said in a statement. writing.

The Massachusetts Senate in November unanimously approved its own bill that would ensure Massachusetts residents are eligible for annual mental health wellness exams at no cost — similar to annual physical exams.

The sweeping bill, which passed 39 to 0, would create an online portal to help ease the transition from emergency to long-term care and allocate $122 million to support nearly 2,000 professionals behavior. It would also enforce existing mental health parity laws, which aim to ensure that insurance coverage for mental health care is equal to insurance coverage for other medical conditions.

The bill was sent to the Massachusetts House.

The official session of the legislature ends on July 31.

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