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News Every Day |

Gov. Baker signs new health care legislation

Gov. Baker signs new health care legislation

BOSTON (NEWS10) — Gov. Charlie Baker signed a new comprehensive health care legislation. The new law increases insurance coverage for telehealth services, expands the scope of practice for nurse practitioners, other specialized nurses, and optometrists, and takes steps to protect consumers from surprise medical bills. Recognizing the continuing impacts of COVID-19, the law also extends requirements for all insurance carriers in Massachusetts to cover COVID-19 testing and treatment. 

The legislation contains several priorities initially included in the health care legislation that was introduced in the fall of 2019, including requiring coverage of telehealth services and expanding the scope of practice for Advanced Practice Nurses. The legislation also extends, and in some instances codifies, critical measures taken through executive action throughout the pandemic to ensure timely access and coverage for COVID-19 treatment and services. 

Additionally, the recently signed Fiscal Year 2021 budget includes several points that align with the initial health care legislation. These proposals require all Massachusetts insurers to use a standard credentialing form, and prohibit additional costs for same-day billing for multiple primary care and behavioral health visits. 

“Massachusetts has long been a leader in ensuring health care quality and access and with this new law, we are making further progress in building a strong, accessible and affordable health care system, a goal that is more important now than ever,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “I am proud to sign this legislation which promotes telehealth services that have become vital during this pandemic, expands access to high-quality, affordable care, takes steps to protect consumers from surprise medical bills, and preserves access to COVID-19 testing and treatment. We look forward to working with our partners in the Legislature and the health care community to build on these reforms in the future.”

The key points of the new law include:  

  • Requiring coverage of telehealth services including behavioral health care
  • Expanding Scope of Practice for Advanced Practice Nurses and Optometrists
  • Increasing disclosures around provider costs and network status to protect consumers from surprise medical bills
  • Removing barriers to urgent care centers for MassHealth members
  • Extending insurance coverage and access to COVID-19 testing and treatment
  • Directing a study and report of the impacts of COVID-19 on the health care system

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