IMPROVE CHILDREN’S HEALTH BILL

By Bob Katzen

The House 152-0, approved and sent to the Senate a bill designed to make it easier for children and their families to navigate the state’s complicated and often difficult to understand health-care system. A key provision requires health insurance companies to perform monthly updates of their provider databases that tell patients which doctors and other medical resources are available to them. Patients complain that many physicians are listed as local and taking new patients despite having retired, moved or stopped accepting new patients.

The measure ensures that foster children are able to remain covered by MassHealth until they turn 26, the same option that children covered by their parents’ private insurance currently have. It also creates a Health Policy Commission analysis of children under age 21 with medical complexities, their insurance and availability of care.

“I am proud of the House’s leadership and steadfast commitment to caring for our most vulnerable children,” said Judiciary Committee Chair Rep. Claire Cronin (D-Easton). “This bill will assess the healthcare and wellness needs of children in the commonwealth and expand access to services for these children and their families. This is a step forward to ensuring that all of our children have equal access to quality healthcare.”

“Nothing is more heartbreaking than talking to a constituent whose child is in crisis, but they’re having difficulty finding healthcare services in the complex system of providers, insurers and resources,” said Health Care Financing Chair, Rep. Jennifer Benson (D-Lunenburg). “By identifying and addressing these difficulties in this legislation, we are working to ensure that every child in the commonwealth will be able to access high-quality services quickly and efficiently.”

“This bill makes important reforms to increase access to healthcare, supports further study of issues critical to children’s behavioral health and takes an important look at improving the state’s foster care system,” said Rep. Marjorie Decker (D-Cambridge). “It will strengthen and expand access to care for children both by collecting data, as well as assessing current methods in the pursuit of providing the kind of behavioral health care children need.”

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