Current Legislation on Community Health and Access to Services
John is committed to smart health care policies that meet regional and community needs, and to ensuring that those who need specialized care will have access to that care. He is supporting a number of bills for health care access, such as proposals to expand the Children’s Behavioral Health Initiative, and to provide coverage for the treatment of Lyme disease. In addition, he has filed legislation to:
Prevent the sudden and unplanned closure of essential health services, by strengthening the state’s health planning process and creating regulatory procedures to require a thorough and transparent planning process for any closure.
Improve access to services for persons with disabilities, by creating a right to an in-person appeal and adjusting eligibility standards for DDS services so that families are not denied services solely due to an IQ test result.
Support human service providers in the district, by allowing employees of state contracted human service providers to access GIC health insurance, a change that would alleviate one of the heaviest cost burdens on our local non-profit service agencies.
Help attract and retain primary care providers to community health centers, by expanding on community-based residency programs available to nurse practitioners, so that lower cost health centers can develop the professional work force they need.
Create access to services for early onset Alzheimer’s, so that no family impacted by this devastating condition is excluded from state support simply because of their age.
Past Accomplishments in Community Health and Access to Services
John was closely involved in several important health reforms during the 2013 – 2014 session. As chairman for the Joint Committee on Public Health, he was the Senate’s lead on new pharmacy regulations to address sterile and non-sterile compounding, an industry where a lack of regulation in the past had led to hundreds of injuries and deaths across the country.
Under his leadership the committee also advanced legislation to require screenings for congenital heart disease in newborn infants, and to expand access to screenings and treatment for Hepatitis-C; two initiatives that became law in 2014.
As an advocate for behavioral health services, John was among a committed group of legislators who successfully fought against the shutdown of state-funded mental health services at Taunton State Hospital, not only preserving the 45 beds that would have been closed, but also advancing funding for another 52 new placements at the Worcester Recovery Center and Hospital and for hundreds of new community placements.
John was also the Senate’s leading voice raising awareness of suicide as a public health issue, and championed laws calling for training programs to help physicians discuss suicide risk factors with patients, and enhanced data collection regarding access to lethal means.