Advancing the rights and opportunities of persons with mental disabilities through quality legal advocacy and education in Massachusetts

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About Legislative Advocacy

About MHLAC's Legislative Advocacy

MHLAC's legislative agenda for 2017 - 2018 includes the following efforts. Below this agenda you will find a list of links to testimony by MHLAC staff on efforts related to revising regulations and other efforts.

2017 - 18 LEGISLATIVE AGENDA

Continuity of Care

Click here for Fact Sheet

Click here for link to bill text and history

What’s the problem?

Individuals seeking mental health treatment and support go to great strides to develop a trusting relationship with their treater. Having someone you can trust is extremely important to accomplish the work and gain the tools to manage one’s health and wellbeing. Unfortunately, current law provides for very limited continuity of care when your clinician or psychiatrist is no longer in your insurer’s network (e.g., you or your employer changes insurance or your provider drops out of the network).

What this bill will do

MHLAC believes this law does not incur any additional costs for insurers. There will be a reimbursement protocol to follow providing for reimbursement to out-network providers as well as allowing for a higher co-payment when the insurer can demonstrate the heightened cost for the individual to continue with a certain provider who is no longer in-network. Since the therapeutic relationship will be maintained, continuity of care will improve the mental health outcomes.

 

Mental Health Parity for Disability Insurance Policies

Click here for Fact Sheet

Click here for link to bill text and history

What’s the problem?

When individuals with short- and long-term disability policies seek wage replacement benefits, a majority of private insurers limit benefits for those being treated for mental illness (i.e., deny benefits altogether, or terminate wage replacement much sooner than is done for insureds with physical disabilities), even though people with psychiatric disabilities have paid the same premiums as others.

What this bill will do

H. 485 will ban disability insurers in Massachusetts from discriminating against persons with psychiatric disabilities.

MHLAC and numerous other organizations and legislators are supporting a bill to ban discrimination by disability (wage replacement) insurers against people with psychiatric disabilities.

For testimony on the identical bill that was previously filed, click here .

 

Parental Discrimination

Click here for Fact Sheet

Click here for link to bill text and history

What’s the problem?

Capable parents with disabilities are denied the right to raise their children. Parents with disabilities are more likely to lose custody of their children after divorce. Removal rates of children from parents with psychiatric or intellectual disabilities as well as parents with sensory or physical disabilities are higher than the general population which illustrates blatant discrimination.

What this bill will do

This law will require courts to determine whether or not a parent’s disability causes harm to their child, by requiring written findings and will also require courts to determine whether the harm to the child can be alleviated by adaptive equipment or supportive services for the parent. This will result in more families remaining intact while also identifying and engaging and addressing the family’s needs.

 

Student Arrests

Click here for Fact Sheet

Click here for link to bill text and history

What’s the problem?

Public school students are all too often arrested in response to non-violent conduct that in the past resulted in a talking-to from the school principal or an hour in detention. Students with disabilities, particularly those of color, are disproportionately arrested for “acting out” behaviors, often because they are not getting what their Individualized Education Program calls for. Unnecessary arrest is connected to what is commonly called the “school-to-prison pipeline.” It causes students to lose their sense of connection to school, and they often drop out. These students therefore miss important opportunities and are much more likely to use public benefits and other resources.

What this bill will do

S.876/H.328 would decriminalize student behavior that is merely alleged to be disruptive, and not violent or injurious. It would also set standards for required school/police Memoranda of Understanding, limiting arrest for conduct that is not serious and keeping police out of the business of enforcing school rules. It would also provide that police officers with relevant background receive preference in school assignments; encourage training focused on helping police to contribute to positive school climates; and require arrest data collection, reporting, and publication in the same manner as school discipline.

 

 

TESTIMONY ON REGULATIONS, ETC.

  • Testimony submitted to the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education regarding proposed regulations implementing C. 222. MHLAC also participated in the drafting and submission of public comments as part of the Education Law Task Force.

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