Information about Massachusetts House Bill 3425 ....

An Act to extend coverage for any willing provider to qualify as a mental health professional

 

This legislation has been filed by Rep Sheila Harrington, of Groton, and Sen Eileen M. Donoghue, of Lowell.

Known as the “Any Willing Provider” law, this legislation will require insurance carriers in Massachusetts to provide coverage to “any licensed mental health or substance abuse provider located within the geographic coverage area of the health benefit plan.”  Essentially, if mental health providers have the credentials necessary to be licensed in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, an insurance company cannot prevent (financially) patients from seeing them.

Here’s one school counselor’s reasoning as to why this legislation is so important: “’Fit’ is the most important part of therapy.  When I'm approached at school for names and numbers of therapists, my first reaction is to think about which therapist(s) would be a good ‘fit’ for the student.  Unfortunately, if that therapist is not on the insurance company's ‘panel of providers’ then they are out of luck.  The family can pay out of pocket, but this can get very expensive.  So, we typically end up going with other, less ideal providers.”

This legislation will prevent insurance companies from artificially limiting their panel of providers, as some of them are known to do.

A behavioral health clinician who provides psychiatric triage and crisis intervention to patients of all ages in the emergency room of a local hospital describes how the current law hurts people in their time of need: “I have seen many patients in the ER in crisis from this issue. I will see someone who has had a good therapeutic relationship with a provider that must end abruptly due to their insurance needing to change and many of the reasons the insurance must change is related to major life stressors.  Due to such changes, patients are cut off from their provider just when that established relationship is needed most, as that clinician is not on the panel of the new insurance.  Not surprisingly, crisis evolves leaving people very much stranded and bereft of the support that is desperately needed.”

House Bill 3425 will also prevent tragic situations, such as this one described by a respected psychologist who has practiced in Massachusetts for several years: “A young client of mine has just switched jobs.  Her new insurance does not have me on their panel.  If she wants to continue to see me there will be a $1500 deductible.  She has made great progress, and, ironically, this new, better job was due in large part to the progress she has made.  So the choices are that she pay out of pocket, she start with a new therapist who is on the panel, or I see her pro bono.  I have every credential that they could ask for, but I'm not on this specific panel.  This legislation would remedy this situation.”

The bill was assigned to the Joint Committee on Financial Services on January 22, 2013 and currently remains there.  Please help us to advocate for this bill.  Below are some sample letters that you can send in support of this bill.

Find your senator here.
Find your representative here.

Here is a letter that you can consider sending to your legislators.

 

Dear Sen ? or Rep ?,

I am writing you in support of House Bill 3425.  As you may be aware, this legislation, known as “Any Willing Provider,” will require insurance carriers in Massachusetts to provide coverage to any licensed mental health or substance abuse provider located within the geographic coverage area of the health benefit plan.  I believe this bill, when passed, will make a positive difference to thousands of Massachusetts residents and I encourage you to support it.

Perhaps you are aware of the struggle that many residents of our Commonwealth have in accessing quality mental health care.  This legislation would remove one important obstacle and make it a little easier for many in our state to get the care that they are desperate to find.

And perhaps you are also aware of the difficulties caused to people who are getting quality care, but then their insurance changes and they discover that their therapist is not covered by their new insurance.  Such changes in insurance frequently happen in times of turmoil and the patient is forced to establish a new therapeutic relationship at the worst possible time.

This legislation has been sitting with the Joint Committee on Financial Services since January 22, 2013.  Please join me in supporting this legislation by contacting Senate Chair Anthony Petruccelli, House Chair Michael Costello, or any other member of that committee and encourage them to schedule a hearing.

Thank you for your attention to this matter,
Your name
Your Address
Your Phone #

The bill sponsors are:

Rep Sheila Harrington Groton Sheila.Harrington@mahouse.gov
Sen Eileen M. Donoghue Lowell Eileen.Donoghue@masenate.gov


Here is a letter that you can consider sending to these legislators.

 

Dear Rep Harrington and Sen Donoghue,

Thank you for writing and sponsoring House Bill 3425.  As I am sure you are aware, this legislation, known as “Any Willing Provider,” will require insurance carriers in Massachusetts to provide coverage to any licensed mental health or substance abuse provider located within the geographic coverage area of the health benefit plan.  I believe this bill, when passed, will make a positive difference to thousands of Massachusetts residents and I thank you for your efforts.

Sincerely,
Your name

Members of the Joint Committee on Financial Services are as follows:

Sen Anthony Petrucelli East Boston Anthony.Petruccelli@masenate.gov
Sen Brian Joyce Milton Brian.A.Joyce@masenate.gov
Sen John Keenan Quincy John.Keenan@masenate.gov
Sen Michael Rodrigues Westport Michael.Rodrigues@masenate.gov
Sen Kathleen O’Connor Ives Newburyport Kathleen.OConnorIves@masenate.gov
Sen Robert Hedlund Weymouth Robert.Hedlund@masenate.gov
Rep Michael Costello Newburyport Michael.Costello@mahouse.gov
Rep John Fernandes Milford John.Fernandes@mahouse.gov
Rep Christopher Fallon Malden Christopher.Fallon@mahouse.gov
Rep James Dwyer Woburn James.Dwyer@mahouse.gov
Rep Russell Holmes Boston Russell.Holmes@mahouse.gov
Rep Marjorie Decker Cambridge Marjorie.Decker@mahouse.gov
Rep Donald Wong Saugus Donald.Wong@mahouse.gov
Rep Kevin Murphy Lowell Kevin.Murphy@mahouse.gov
Rep Edward Coppinger Boston Edward.Coppinger@mahouse.gov
Rep John Lawn Watertown John.Lawn@mahouse.gov
Rep Susan Williams Gifford Wareham Susan.Gifford@mahouse.gov