Legislative Priorities 2015-2016
Boston Children’s Hospital actively supports legislation that will help the hospital fulfill its mission to provide exceptional clinical care, research new cures, train the next generation of pediatric providers, and improve the health and well-being of children and families. We have a special interest in, and commitment to, our community health programs, and work hard to develop and sustain systemic solutions to child health concerns. As such, staff in the Office of Government Relations work in close collaboration with city, state and federal legislators to identify and advance legislation that meets this goal. Though we support many bills and initiatives, below are our top priorities.
2015-2016 State Legislative Agenda
In the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the state legislature operates a on a two year calendar which is known as a legislative session. During the 2015-2016 state legislative session, the Office of Government Relations at Boston Children’s Hospital will track hundreds of bills that have potential impact for the hospital and for children throughout the Commonwealth. With feedback and support from internal experts, external stakeholders, patients, families and children’s advocates, the Office of Government Relations has assembled this legislative agenda consisting of ten top-priority bills that we will advocate for throughout the session. The bills on this agenda reflect BCH’s commitment to ensuring that the Commonwealth’s children have access to affordable, high quality health, mental health and oral health services. In addition, we work on bills that have a focus on social problems that affect children’s health, such as food insecurity and homelessness. Finally, our agenda includes legislation that is focused on prevention as a mechanism to keep our children healthy and safe, with bills to address childhood obesity and improve child passenger safety in motor vehicles. Members of the Children’s Advocacy Network may also be called upon to advocate for these issues throughout the session.
For questions about the legislative agenda, contact Kate Audette, Director of State Government Relations at 671-919-3062 or Kathryn.email@example.com.
Health Care Access
HB267: An act advancing and expanding access to telemedicine services- Sponsored by State Representative John Scibak
Telemedicine improves care by giving patients more convenient access to primary care providers and greater access to specialists located outside their geographic area and has been shown to improve the health of patients, to reduce hospital readmissions, to decrease lengths of stay, and to cut down on emergency room visits. This bill would ensure expanded access to telemedicine services in Massachusetts by clarifying and simplifying which clinicians are authorized to provide telemedicine services within their scopes of practice. In addition, the bill allows for coverage of telemedicine services by all payers and the Medicaid program. Currently, Massachusetts is one of only three states that do not provide coverage for telemedicine through its Medicaid program.
HB1036 & SB570: An act relative to continuity of care for families enrolled in MassHealth- Sponsored by state Representative Ellen Story and State Senator Sal DiDomenico
Many children often cycle on and off of MassHealth coverage. When coverage is reinstated, children are not always assigned back to their same primary care provider (PCP). In these cases, when parents take their child to who they thought was their PCP, they learn that they are in the “wrong” place, requiring them to either be sent away or for the PCP to see the child without reimbursement. This bill would create continuity of care for children in the MassHealth program, ensuring they are assigned to their primary care provider when their MassHealth benefits fluctuate while also ensuring they keep their PCP when there are changes to MassHealth managed care networks.
HB1009 & SB66: An act improving the Children's Medical Security Plan- Sponsored by State Representative Liz Malia and State Senator Sal DiDomenico
Children who do not have access to private insurance through their parents and who are ineligible for other public programs can get coverage through the Children’s Medical Security Plan (CMSP). Unfortunately, coverage under CMSP is limited by strict statutory caps on services – caps that are inadequate to address the health needs of young people. This bill gives the Commonwealth increased flexibility to design a program to adequately address the health needs of children by eliminating service caps, while remaining within the Legislature’s funding appropriation.
HB789: An act to increase access to children's mental health services in the community – Sponsored by State Representative Ruth Balser and State Senator Jason Lewis
In accordance with state and federal parity laws, this bill requires coverage for community-based behavioral health care services (“wraparound care”) for youth with mental health disorders who are covered by commercial insurance. These services cost less than expensive ER visits or inpatient stays, but currently are only available to youth with MassHealth through the Children’s Behavioral Health Initiative (CBHI). Currently, families with commercial insurance either go without these services or obtain secondary MassHealth to pay for the services, shifting the costs of the services off of the commercial insurance and onto the Commonwealth.
HB1785: An act regarding proportional payments of the Massachusetts Child Psychiatry Access Project- Sponsored by State Representative Ruth Balser and State Senator Jennifer Flanagan
MCPAP is a system of regional children's mental health consultation teams designed to help primary care providers (PCPs) meet the needs of children with psychiatric problems. MCPAP provides PCPs access to consultation by one of six regional teams, each of which includes a child psychiatrist, social worker, and care coordinator. Historically publically financed, a majority of kids who benefit from MCPAP are privately insured. This bill codifies language that has been in the budget for the past two years requiring commercial health insurance companies to contribute to the funding of MCPAP proportional to the percent of MCPAP services used by their members.
HB1032 & SB1125: An act relative to cost reduction in the Medicaid program by improving early childhood oral health- Sponsored by State Representative John Scibak and State Senator Harriette Chandler
Although cavities and tooth decay are largely preventable, they remain the most common chronic disease of children and adolescents. Cavities and tooth decay impact child health and development, self-esteem, and learning and result in unhealthy adult teeth and high costs for dental treatment throughout life. This bill would take a successful children’s oral health program that was developed by experts at Boston Children’s Hospital and replicate it on a larger scale, creating a cost-effective prevention program for children enrolled in MassHealth. The program includes more frequent preventive visits in high risk children, fluoride treatments, and enhanced patient education, which aims to reduce the number of children with new cavities, reduce referrals to the operating room and create cost savings in the MassHealth program.
Injury Prevention & Public Health
SB1848: An act relative to child passenger safety- Sponsored by State Senator Thomas Kennedy
Massachusetts is lagging behind many other states in having strong child passenger safety laws. This bill helps to strengthen current laws by ensuring that all children under the age of 13 are safely seated in the rear passenger seats of motor vehicles whenever possible.
HB429 & SB94: An act relative to ensuring the well-being of children in the Commonwealth- Sponsored by State Representative Jay Livingstone and State Senator Mark Montigny
This bill will improve the lives of Massachusetts’ young people by addressing a range of issues that impact child health: improving access to food benefits such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the School Breakfast Program; ensuring families at risk of homelessness are immediately eligible for emergency shelter; and, ensuring that children in emergency shelter receive transportation to medical appointments.
HB2050 & SB1119: An act modernizing tobacco control and protecting the health of minors- Sponsored by State Representative Jeffrey Sanchez and State Senator Harriette Chandler
As new and emerging nicotine and tobacco products such as electronic cigarettes continue to be developed, our state laws have not kept pace in protecting our children from these harmful, addictive devices. This bill prohibits the sale of nicotine delivery products, in addition to tobacco products, to anyone under 18 and prohibits use of nicotine delivery products and tobacco products by students or school personnel on any school property.
SB318: An act to promote quality physical education- Sponsored by State Senator Thomas McGee
Our schools take on the great responsibility of developing healthy minds. We want to help our schools promote healthy bodies as well. As a means of helping to combat the childhood obesity epidemic, this bill requires that children have 150 minutes per week of physical education in elementary school and 225 minutes per week of physical education in middle school.
If you are interested in getting more information on any of the following federal initiatives, please don’t hesitate to contact Amy DeLong, Manager of Federal Government Relations, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 617-919-3070.
Children's Hospital Graduate Medical Education
Congress enacted the Children's Hospital Graduate Medical Education (CHGME) program in 1999 with the goal of providing freestanding children's hospitals with the same support for training activities that other teaching hospitals receive through Medicare. This has enabled children's hospitals like Boston Children's Hospital to sustain and strengthen their teaching programs as well as continue to increase services dedicated to children's unique health care needs.
This year, we ask that Congress to support the mission of freestanding children's hospitals by:
The legislation that authorizes the CHGME program has expired and must be renewed. The U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation in February 2013 to do so. The introduction of legislation in the U.S. Senate is pending.
Providing Adequate Appropriations for CHGME
Congress and the President must provide funding for the program in FY2014. We ask them to include at least level funding for the program of $266.8 million.
Investments in Pediatric Research
Investments in biomedical research by the federal government, primarily through the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have led to marked improvement in the health and well-being of our nation's population. As funding pressures become increasingly challenging, the need for a strong and sustained commitment to biomedical research is critically important. This need is particularly acute in pediatrics, where investments have not kept pace with research into adult diseases. The National Pediatric Research Network Act would address the shortfall in pediatric biomedical research using a well-proven network model to foster greater collaboration, coordination, and sharing of resources. The legislation would authorize the establishment of up to 20 pediatric research consortia throughout the nation.
We support the prompt passage of the National Pediatric Research Network Act. The U.S. House of Representatives passed the bill in February 2013. The legislation (S. 424) is still pending in the U.S. Senate.
Medicaid is a federal-state partnership, one which is vital to children and children’s hospitals. Medicaid is the single largest health insurer for children in the United States and children represent more than half of all Medicaid recipients. Children’s hospitals provide about 45 percent of the hospital care required by children covered by Medicaid and almost all the hospital care for Medicaid-covered children with complex conditions. Medicaid is also the single largest payer of children’s hospitals’ patient care.