Legislative Activity 2018-2019
MAOT Government Relations Update
Follow-up from MAOT Conference
It was wonderful to see you at conference two weeks ago.
Please read below for an update on topics presented, and check out website links.
1) Mental Health Legislation
An Act Relative to Mental Health Providers, H.1000/S.550, is currently in the Joint Committee for Financial Services, chaired by Sen. James Welch and Rep. James Murphy. As this bill sits in committee, there is no announcement of next steps by the committee for any votes following our written and oral testimonies in July. But, we need help!
2) Mental Health Legislation Written Feedback (WE NEED YOUR HELP)
Based on member feedback, the lobbyist and MAOT leadership will not hold a gathering in the middle of MA on 12/11; rather, we will solicit written feedback to assist us.
From our lobbyist, Lisa Simonetti:
Passing a bill in Massachusetts is hard, it is designed to be hard. What might be a surprise to people is the legislature is not a proactive body. They are a slow and deliberative body which is frustrating, I understand.
There are many phases to a bills life, as many of you experienced when you testified, that is the public phase. Now, its the research phase. Its answering questions, its legal research, its correcting misinformation. Its boring and hard and has no guarantees.
So with that said we need your help; the legislature does not like to pass new mandates and they think this is a new mandate...I am trying to prove its not; I am hoping the information we gather from these questions will prove that. Please send responses to the questions below by December 15, 2019 to SarahMcKinnonOT@gmail.com
Thanks you for your time,
Questions related to the OT/OTA bill:
1. Is this allowed in your licensure? If not then it needs to be addressed there and if so why is legislation needed?
2. OT/OTA services are currently reimbursed by payers. Both public and private? If so which payers cover it; which ones do not? Please include Medicare and MassHealth in this response.
3. How are OT/OTA services accessed now? Referral? For what services ? Why can’t a referral be given for MHSU through the same procedure now?
4. Is OT/OTA currently being reimbursed for MHSU services by any payers? If so which ones? In what settings is OT/OTA paid for for MHSU? Inpatient /Outpatient /Partial or Day programs? Is it included in a bundled payment or day rate? Or is it reimbursed to the individual provider.
5. Are OT’s used by DMH or in any other state contracts? If so how is that happening in the contract or program design with a rate built in
6. Is this possibly a parity violation issue that the med surg side of a policy pay for OT/OTA but the MHSU does not?
To address an audience question, "non-compete" is against Massachusetts State law, as of October 1, 2019. Here is a link to more information if you are aware of this topic and would like some information.
4) Increased communication about MA Government Affairs
Please count on me to continue to provide you with a bimonthly update. To provide more structure (and keep you excited!), I will send an email by the 1st of every other month with any MA government relations issues, as well as solicit your feedback and personal experiences at this time.
It was wonderful to see you at conference. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org,
or more personally at SarahMcKinnonOT@gmail.com
at any time to discuss MA Government Relations.
The 191st Massachusetts legislative cycle began in January 2019 and will run until the end of 2020.
H.1000/S.550 An Act Relative to Mental Health Providers (Support)
Based on feedback from a membership survey and discussions at the 2018 MAOT annual conference, one bill, An Act Relative to Mental Health Providers (HR1000/S550), was filed by Sen. Nick Collins and Rep. Natalie Higgins.
The bill proposes to amend current law to include “occupational therapist” and “occupational therapy assistant” to the definition of “qualified mental health provider” in Massachusetts. This proposed change will allow clients with mental health and/or substance abuse diagnoses to further expand services available to them to achieve functional, independent, and meaningful lives.
The bill was referred to the committee of Financial Services and a hearing was held on July 9, 2019. Over a dozen MAOT members presented oral testimony and 18 MAOT member provided written testimony in support of this bill. The bill remains in joint committee – no future hearings or votes are currently scheduled.
H.991/S.621 An Act Advancing and Expanding Access to Telemedicine Services (Support)
This bill encompasses expansion of telemedicine services to populations with Massachusetts. Occupational therapy services are included in this bill. This bill was filed by Rep. Thomas Golden and Sen. Jason Lewis. A joint hearing was held on October 1, 2019. Written testimony by MAOT was provided in favor of this bill.
H.3483/S.1338 An Act Relative to Athletic Training (Opposed)
This bill, which was filed by Sen. Michael Rush and Rep. Edward Coppinger, proposes increased scope of practice for athletic trainers beyond athletic injuries to include injury and illness. The scope of practice is intended to include patients, in addition to athletes, and encompass patients within community settings outside of athletic environments. This bill is in committee and a hearing has not been scheduled. Given the concern for infringement on occupational therapy practice, MAOT has prepared a written statement opposing this bill.
On July 27, 2017, the Board of Allied Health unanimously passed continuing competency regulations, 259 CMR 7.00, requiring 24 units per 2-year cycle will be required for state licensure renewal; however, these regulations ae not yet effective s the proceed through the regulatory process. A representative from MAOT attends most of the monthly Board of Allied Health meetings and reports back to MAOT membership.
Interstate Licensure Compact
In September 2019, AOTA and NBCOT announced a four-year collaboration to create an interstate licensure compact for the OT profession. This compact would allow for reciprocity for OT professionals to practice across state lines. Continuing education practice, which is not currently required in Massachusetts, may pose as a barrier for inclusion and thus, MAOT continues to lobby in support of these efforts.
For more information on legislative matters, go to http://www.malegislature.gov or contact the MAOT Government Relations Representative, Sarah McKinnon, OT, OTD at sarahmckinnonOT@gmail.com