The bill aims to break down silos of service to better address the complex health and wellness needs specific to the Commonwealth’s 1.4 million children. The effort seeks to create a foundation for better access to services and more data to inform future policy, while supporting a holistic approach to children’s health and safety.
“As a father, and as a legislator, I was proud to support this bill because the wellbeing of the children in our Commonwealth is of paramount importance,” said Senator Moore. “Providing increased access to health care and enhanced services is critical to helping our youth thrive.”
“This legislation just makes sense, as we support all children as they become young adults by covering those in DCF and Foster Care with the healthcare coverage others would get with their parents,” said Representative Frost. “This bill makes sure less fortunate children aren’t left behind when it comes to healthcare, and covers behavioral health needs as well.”
Among its provisions, the legislation seeks to address child wellness in several key areas. In particular, the bill secures healthcare benefits for foster children until the age of 26, making it easier for this vulnerable population to access MassHealth benefits they are entitled to, at minimal cost to the Commonwealth. It codifies the practice for Massachusetts in the event of change on the federal level to the Affordable Care Act.
The bill also requires insurance companies to maintain accurate and accessible provider directories for health plans. The provision directs companies to make the directories available without requiring users to create a new online account or profile. Importantly, the bill also creates childhood behavioral health centers of excellence via a pilot program that designates three regional centers to act as clearinghouses to connect families, providers, and educators to services and training opportunities.
Lastly, the bill establishes several special commissions and requires the Heath Policy Commission to conduct an analysis of children with medical complexities to analyze costs and population characteristics of this group in order to develop recommendations about how to serve this unique population. One of the special commissions established under the bill is tasked with reviewing and making recommendations on mandated reporting to improve responses to child abuse and neglect.
The bill now goes to Governor Charlie Baker for his consideration. To continue tracking the legislation, H.4210, visit the Legislature’s website, www.MAlegislature.gov.