Today, the Massachusetts House held a formal session and took up four bills, two of which are bills that I am proud to have filed this session.
An Act relative to step therapy and patient safety:
I filed An Act relative to step therapy and patient safety after the issue of step therapy was brought to my attention by a constituent who introduced me to someone who needed an advocate. This bill will require insurers to provide a clear and transparent process for patients and their care team to request an exception from step therapy protocols— a policy that requires patients to try, and fail, on a lower-cost medication for a period of time before gaining coverage for the appropriate medication prescribed by their own physician. It’s been referred to as “fail first,” but I think of it as “suffer first.” This is an approach designed by insurance companies rather than healthcare providers, and it too often delays effective care. I was grateful to partner with Representative Jeff Roy on legislation to make these changes to save lives and reduce suffering.
This bill gives patients the power to advocate for their healthcare with the support of their doctor and healthcare team. The bill also includes an important data collection piece and creates a commission on step therapy protocols tasked with studying, assessing, and reporting on the implementation of step therapy process reforms. I am deeply privileged to know that today, we have stood up for patients across Massachusetts.
An Act expanding protections for reproductive rights
This session, I filed An Act to improve access to emergency contraception to ensure emergency contraception could be easily accessed at any pharmacy anywhere in MA. I am thankful that Chair Day and Chair Michlewitz used this bill and broadened its scope to create omnibus legislation, uplifting the work of many of my colleagues to strengthen reproductive rights. Its scope was expanded not only to include the original bill but also to codify protections for providers of reproductive health care and gender-affirming care, as well as for people from other states who receive those health care services in Massachusetts.
I’m grateful to serve in a body where so many colleagues file legislation that represent the values of bodily autonomy and reproductive justice that many in our communities share. Thank you to Speaker Mariano, Chair Michlewitz, Chair John Lawn, and Chair Mike Day for their leadership and commitment to the reproductive freedom of individuals across our state by bringing this bill to the floor.
I had a speech written and found myself stumbling when it came time to read it because, like
many of you, I am still processing my anger and shock. I am not often at a loss for words, but that is what happens when I think about the reality of how the Dobbs ruling will impact people across the nation, particularly families of color and families stuck in poverty. It is clear that this decision was motivated by misogyny in an attempt to control bodily autonomy and self-determination.
Next week, I will share with you the speech I wrote and the speech I gave. For today, I wanted to update you on the work that the House of Representatives is doing and thank you, my constituents and friends, for giving me the ability to lead on the bills that were voted on today.
My emergency contraception bill, included in this legislation, creates a statewide standing order
(coordination between a physician and a pharmacist allowing the pharmacists to dispense a
particular medication) for both prescription and over-the-counter emergency contraception. This will help to ensure that everyone can access the emergency contraception that’s right for them without a delay, and also makes insurance coverage possible for all forms of emergency contraception. The bill we passed today additionally includes the work of my colleagues to strengthen reproductive rights:
- It declares that access to both reproductive health care and gender-affirming care is a "right secured by the constitution or laws" of Massachusetts
- It shields providers of reproductive and gender-affirming care and their patients from out-of-state legal action
- It prevents MA law enforcement agents from assisting federal or out-of-state law enforcement agents in the investigation of legally protected health care activities.
- It bars insurance companies from charging deductibles, coinsurance, copayments, or any other cost sharing requirements for abortion care or services or imposing undue restrictions or delays in coverage
- It allows providers of reproductive and gender-affirming health care to have their home addresses made confidential
- It permits abortions after 24 weeks of pregnancy in cases of a "severe" fetal anomaly in addition to already-allowed cases involving "fatal" fetal anomalies - this is a clarification of the ROE Act in response to a lack of regulations that resulted in some hospitals interpreting the law more narrowly than it was intended