Mar 24, 2022

Newly filed legislation from the Baker Administration seeks to increase investment in primary care and behavioral health care, representing an important step toward sufficient investment in a comprehensive health system.

The behavioral health system has long been underfunded, resulting in individuals and families too often being unable to get the behavioral health care they need, when they need it, and in the most appropriate and therapeutic setting. Current gaps in care, limited capacity in care settings, and low reimbursement rates resulting from underfunding, have serious effects on individuals, families, and communities. The behavioral health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic are not yet fully understood, but the toll it is taking, and will continue to take, on individuals and families is severe. Now is the time to address the problems within the current behavioral health care system.

On March 15, 2022 the Baker Administration filed a comprehensive health care bill that seeks to:

  • Increase investment in primary care and behavioral health care;
  • Address excess health care costs and promote affordability;
  • Improve access to high quality coordinated care.

The proposal to increase spending on behavioral health and primary care by 30% over three years proves crucial to containing health care spending and advancing the health of the people of the Commonwealth.

Increased investment would allow behavioral health conditions to be addressed at their onset, reducing serious impacts like the development of multiple chronic health conditions, poverty, homelessness, incarceration, and more. Increasing the opportunities to treat emerging conditions among children, adolescents, and families before clinical decline would promote healthy development.

Timely treatment of emerging conditions isn’t the only benefit to increased spending. This investment will also prevent avoidable and more costly acute, specialty, and emergency care down the line. A 30% spending increase is an important step in getting Massachusetts closer to the reality of a comprehensive health system, one that acknowledges and addresses the intersection between physical and behavioral health.

There has never been a more important need for timely access to behavioral health care. The proposed increase would strengthen our fractured and severely under-sourced behavioral health infrastructure by providing the foundation to build a system that meets the needs of individuals and families in the Commonwealth.

Download the full S.2774, "An Act Investing in the Future of Our Health" brief.

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