Boston Center for Independent Living
Boston Center for Independent Living (BCIL) will identify new ways to conduct virtual organizing in response to the ongoing pandemic. BCIL will continue to provide personal protective equipment to people with disabilities and advocate with MassHealth for stepped-up personal protective equipment distribution for people with disabilities. A key focus area for BCIL will be advocating for increased effectiveness with new One Care plans, a plan that combines MassHealth and Medicare benefits. Additionally, BCIL will continue to co-coordinate the Dignity Alliance of MA, a new advocacy effort that has attracted over 30 groups committed to real change beyond nursing home reform. It will also continue its involvement with the Disability Advocates Advancing our Healthcare Rights Coalition, focusing on social determinants of health.
Disability Policy Consortium
Disability Policy Consortium (DPC) will organize transgender people with disabilities in Massachusetts and outreach to people of color who are deaf or hard of hearing regarding racial bias within their service community. Additionally, DPC will continue to advocate for changes to the state building codes to increase accessibility for people with disabilities accessing various locations, particularly in relation to housing access. DPC's key focus is to continue to advocate for nursing home policies: overhaul infection control standards, end double-occupancy rooms, and develop new tools to help people transition back to the community. DPC will continue its involvement with the Disability Advocates Advancing our Healthcare Rights Coalition, focusing on social determinants of health.
Health Care for All
Health Care for All (HCFA) will continue to focus on advocating for and with consumers on issues related to health care access, quality, and cost. It will convene a new online learning program called Health Justice Academy: Building Health Care Power in Our Communities. This unique training is designed to educate consumers and organizations and build support for important policy proposals during the pandemic and beyond. A key focus area for HCFA is working with immigrant communities and mixed-status households by partnering with community-based organizations and Spanish and Portuguese-language media outlets to spread the news that seeking COVID-19 testing and treatment will not be “counted” toward a public charge determination. HCFA will also advocate for legislation that will expand comprehensive MassHealth coverage to children who would currently be eligible for MassHealth except for their immigration status.
Health Law Advocates
Health Law Advocates (HLA) will work to advocate for public policy reforms that help consumers access necessary health care. Key focus areas in the coming year include: continuing to lead the effort to improve access to mental health services for children through the continued expansion of the Mental Health Advocacy Program for Kids, which provides free legal assistance to help low-income, high-risk youth to overcome barriers to mental health services; closing the gap in coverage for in-home health services, such as skilled nursing and non-emergency transportation that harms many immigrants enrolled in MassHealth Family Assistance; and building on the progress made reducing MassHealth’s longstanding difficulty assigning immigrants to the maximum benefits for which they are eligible. Additionally, HLA will continue to improve access to gender-affirming health care for low-income transgender consumers.
Massachusetts Association for Mental Health
Massachusetts Association for Mental Health (MAMH) will focus on expanding the number of mental health professionals participating in MassHealth and commercial insurance, ensuring continued access to telehealth, and working with partners to advise policymakers on comprehensive parity implementation. It will continue to lead the Children’s Mental Health Campaign’s efforts to promote an effective pediatric behavioral health urgent care system. Additionally, MAMH will continue to work with the Community Behavioral Health Promotion and Prevention Commission to promote early intervention and the integration of behavioral health and pediatric primary care, and mental health education in schools to increase awareness, resiliency, and help-seeking behaviors. Additionally, MBMH will continue to support efforts to address disparities in the justice system and ensure that police reform includes meaningful efforts to support people with mental health conditions more effectively.
Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition
Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA) will work to protect immigrant access to state-funded healthcare benefits and ensure robust funding for valued programs. It will provide policy and practice guidance to hospitals, health clinics, and other providers to protect their immigrant patients' health and safety in the context of stepped-up immigration enforcement. MIRA will continue to educate immigrants, advocates, service providers, and the public about the implications of any immigration policy changes and their impact on health care. Additionally, MIRA will provide impact analysis, talking points, alternative language, and other requested resources during budget debates in the House and the Senate.
Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
Massachusetts Law Reform Institute (MLRI) will provide legal expertise to coalitions and organizations that maintain and improve health care coverage for economically marginalized Massachusetts residents. A key focus will be identifying Medicaid policy flexibilities that should be made permanent when we transition out of the COVID-19 moratorium period. Also, MLRI will ensure that the MassHealth eligibility rules and utilization controls for accessing Long Term Services and Supports and other services for people with disabilities are lawful, and that people with disabilities have information about their treatment options and can access the services they need. MLRI will continue to improve the current eligibility systems, forms, notices, verification procedures, and data systems that are used to determine eligibility for MassHealth so that eligible beneficiaries can obtain timely decisions and avoid losing benefits for procedural reasons. In addition, MLRI will educate MassHealth beneficiaries to obtain information about their choices for delivery of care, know their rights about participating in care decisions, and understand how to seek recourse through the grievance and administrative hearing decisions.
Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers
Massachusetts League of Community Health Center's (MLCHC) key focus will be continued advocacy for primary care to ensure community health centers are prepared and central to the MassHealth Waiver discussion and explore ways to enhance the protection and authority of primary care providers across model types. MLCHC will continue its effort to build a case for the need for a Compliant Federally Qualified Health Center Payment; health centers, with their extensive federal requirements and expectations, rely on strong federal payment protections that outline a bundled payment methodology for all visit types. MLCHC will continue to build on its longstanding success in workforce programming by pursuing a legislative workforce agenda, including Nurse Practitioner Residency legislation; Loan Repayment legislation; and Medicaid Graduate Medical Education restoration with an emphasis on community-based primary care training and psychiatry.
Massachusetts Organization for Addiction Recovery
The Massachusetts Organization for Addiction Recovery (MOAR) will advocate for continued telehealth services for addiction and recovery and advocate for policy flexibilities that should be made permanent when we transition out of the COVID-19 moratorium period, such as allowing methadone patients to take the medication at home for 14 to 28 days. A key focus will be on advocating against all cuts to publicly funded addiction services in collaboration with Massachusetts Coalition for Addiction Services and ensuring that the proposed Recovery Coach Credentialing board has more recovery coach representation. In addition, MOAR will implement its new action plan focused on ending racial discrimination in the organization and with its external partners.
Massachusetts Public Health Association
The Massachusetts Public Health Association (MPHA) will continue to convene the Task Force on Coronavirus & Equity; the Task Force and its members have led the effort to advocate for equity in the state's response to the crisis. In addition, MPHA will advocate for progressive revenue, rather than austerity budget cuts that will further impact people of color and low-income people, to close the significant state budget gap. A key focus area for MPHA will be to continue to coordinate the Alliance for Community Health Integration (ACHI), which works to harness the Massachusetts health care system to promote health equity and address patients' social needs. A particular focus for the ACHI, will be on revising the Massachusetts Principles for Healthy and Affordable Housing in the coronavirus context and continuing to advocate for changes to the next Medicaid1115 waiver.
Massachusetts Senior Action Council
Mass Senior Action Council (MSAC) will collaborate with MLRI and HCFA to educate members about COVID-related changes within MassHealth to identify areas for long term change and identify opportunities to shape evolving telehealth policy. In addition, MSAC will advocate for further expansion of the Medicare Savings Programs and improve prescription drug cost affordability through legislative and administrative actions.