Policy Issue

Policy Watch: New Mental Health Act Signed into Law

September 08, 2022

Governor Baker signed the Act to Addressing Barriers to Care (ABC) in Mental Health at the end of this year's legislative session. The Act will significantly impact the delivery of behavioral health services in the Commonwealth.

The Act was championed by Senate President Karen Spilka (D-Ashland) who said, "We all deserve to have access to the mental health care we need, when we need it, and I am thrilled to see comprehensive mental and behavioral health care reform signed into law."

The ABC Act continues progress made in reforming several aspects of the behavioral healthcare system, such as expanding the workforce, standardizing authorization and criterion for care, expanding insurance coverage for certain services and populations, and ensuring parity in reimbursement.

The Act also seeks to take on the issue of emergency department boarding, a circumstance in which patients with acute mental health needs end up "stuck" in the emergency department while waiting for beds in more appropriate treatment settings to open up, by simplifying the process for providers to find available beds. It also mandates more monitoring of and reporting on pediatric behavioral health needs, and expedites the protocol for evaluating and stabilizing youth.

For a summary of the ABC Act, click here.

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