Mass. State Senate Unanimously Approves New Mental Health Bill

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BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — The Massachusetts State Senate unanimously approved a new bill looking to help broaden access to mental health care in the commonwealth Wednesday.

State senators voted 39-0 for the bill titled "An Act addressing barriers to care for mental health" originally put forth by State Sen. Julian Cyr of the Cape and Islands. The bill seeks to allow all residents free access to mental health wellness exams similar to those of an annual physical exam.

State Sen. Cyr spoke with WBZ NewsRadio this morning about the importance of the bill.

"We want to make sure people are able to be evaluated for their mental health and have very low barriers to do so," Cyr said.

The bill will create an online portal to help those in mental crisis ease their transition from emergency care to long-term care, which looks to help eliminate the wait time patients have prior to being transferred to a psychiatric unit. It will also set aside $122 million to help support mental health professionals.

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One other goal of the bill is to help create more parity between coverage for mental and physical health treatment. The bill will allow the Division of Insurance to better enforce parity rules and investigate claims. Cyr said he was glad this bill received unanimous support.

"It absolutely says that mental health and the real call for us to transform how people are able to access and get the mental care they need isn't a partisan issue," Cyr said. "This is one where all of us care about it."

The bill now heads to the House of Representatives for its approval.

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