BARNSTABLE – State Representative Will Crocker recently joined with colleagues on Beacon Hill to support a bill providing uninterrupted MassHealth coverage to foster children and children in the custody of the Department of Children and Families [DCF] until they turn 26.
House Bill 4210, “An Act relative to children’s health and wellness,” passed the House of Representatives on a vote of 154-0 last week.
The bill represents a compromise negotiated by a six-member Conference Committee, which worked to resolve the differences between two earlier versions of the bill passed by the House and the Senate.
“We have a duty to make sure the children that are in DCF custody are afforded the same physical and mental health care as other children,” said Representative Crocker.
“This legislation ensures that these children’s health insurance remains intact and that children in DCF custody are provided with behavioral healthcare resources, as well.”
In addition to protecting MassHealth coverage for children in DCF custody, House Bill 4210 requires insurance carriers to establish electronic health care provider directories and to update them on a monthly basis so consumers can more easily access information on providers and plans.
The bill also establishes a task force within the Division of Insurance to develop recommendations for ensuring the accuracy of the information contained in these directories, and requires all health insurance carriers to be in compliance by October 1st of 2020.
“This is bill basically trying to make sure that children who are aging through the Department of Children and Family Services still continue to get their health needs taken care of until they turn 26,” continued Crocker.
“They are the wards of the state and we need to make sure they are being taken care of, whether it be actually physical or mental health issues, we need to make sure while they are in the custody of the Commonwealth they are getting the treatment that they need.”
The House Bill requires the Executive Office of Health and Human Services to work with DCF, the Massachusetts Child Advocate, the Department of Mental Health, the Department of Early Education and Care, and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to develop a pilot program of three regional childhood behavioral health centers of excellence.
These health centers will provide comprehensive information on behavioral health resources to families, clinicians, early education providers, and school districts.