Massachusetts Medical Society: Massachusetts Medical Society on passage of the Mental Health ABC Act

Massachusetts Medical Society on passage of the Mental Health ABC Act

The 25,000 physicians and medical students of the Massachusetts Medical Society are grateful to Governor Charlie Baker for signing into law the Mental Health ABC Act: Addressing Barriers to Care.

We thank and applaud the leadership of Secretary Marylou Sudders, Senate President Karen Spilka, House Speaker Ronald Mariano, Senator Julian Cyr, Senator Cindy Friedman, and Representative Adrian Madaro, whose tireless advocacy will help physicians treat the whole patient, transform mental health care in the Commonwealth and make meaningful progress toward ensuring all patients have equitable access to the care they need.

Long before COVID-19 disrupted the delivery of health care, patients in Massachusetts faced innumerable challenges in accessing timely, high-quality mental health care. The public health emergency exacerbated these complexities and magnified unacceptable and dangerous disparities encountered by our most vulnerable patients in need of mental health care.

This law provides stronger enforcement tools, setting a new standard to promote parity between mental and physical health, ensuring patients can access the highest attainable standard of care. Additional provisions in the new law aim to curtail our state’s emergency department boarding crisis, mandate insurance coverage of an annual mental health wellness examination, and the eliminate prior authorization requirements for patients in need of acute mental health treatment, enabling patients and physicians to chart a course to wellness.

These significant changes in addition to committed spending in fiscal year 2023 and through the American Rescue Plan Act will not only strengthen mental health care delivery, but also favorably impact the numbers of behavioral health clinicians in the Commonwealth and better serve the needs of our residents.

-Theodore A. Calianos, II, MD, FACS, President, Massachusetts Medical Society

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