As you know, MAPA filed legislation this session, H.3205 and S.1085, An Act enabling physician assistants to authorize psychiatric and substance abuse holds, which would allow PAs to sign for Section 12 and Section 35 holds. These bills were granted an extended deadline until May 4th, but were ultimately sent to a study by the Joint Committee on Mental Health and Substance Abuse. This means that the bills will not move forward this session.
MAPA had also sought to pursue these statutory changes through the Governor’s proposed opioid legislation, the CARE Act, An act relative to Combatting addiction, Accessing treatment, Reducing prescriptions and Enhancing prevention. The Governor had proposed amending these sections of the Mass. General Law to enable more providers to sign for these holds. However, this legislation was broadly rewritten by the legislative Committee on Mental Health and Substance Abuse (which is often the case), and the sections we were seeking to amend were removed in this new draft.
Although we were not ultimately successfully in securing these legislative changes this session, we want to thank you for your dedication and advocacy. Dozens of PAs wrote letters, made phone calls, and reached out to their legislators urging them to move these bills forward and telling personal stories of how much this legislative change could mean to them in their daily work as a PA. The vast majority of bills do not pass the House and the Senate and become law the first session they are filed. While it is disappointing that we were not able to secure passage of this bill, you have all laid the groundwork for success as we look ahead, and have raised an issue with dozens of lawmakers that was not previously on their radar.
We will be refiling this legislation in January 2019, at the start of the next formal legislative session, and until then we will be hard at work building our coalition and resources to set us up for success in the next legislative session. MAPA will continue to keep you informed of ways that we can use your help in building the groundwork for this campaign.
Additionally, as we look to the end of the current session, coming up on July 31st, we will continue to look for opportunities to make legislative changes that can positively impact the PA profession and your daily work. Specifically, we anticipate that the House of Representatives will be taking up healthcare cost containment legislation in the coming month. We will review this proposed legislation upon its release and will be seeing if there are any MAPA legislative agenda items which we can pursue through this bill. At this time, we ask that you send us any legislative priorities or ideas that you would like to see MAPA pursue this session and next.
Thank you again for your committed advocacy on behalf of PAs and the patients we serve. We will continue to keep you updated as we move ahead in our efforts to secure access to quality care for patients across the Commonwealth.
Please feel free to reach out to Sarah Christie, Immediate Past Presidentt, or to Charlotte Boghossian, one of MAPA’s government affairs consultants, with any questions at all. You can reach Sarah at firstname.lastname@example.org and Charlotte at: email@example.com.