I am writing to you today with legislative, public health, and Cambridge updates.
I also invite you to join me and my staff at my annual Diaper Drive tomorrow, Saturday, December 9, at Raymond Park, where we will be collecting donations and distributing them to the Cambridge Community Center and Transition House. At the event, I'll provide warm drinks, have a cookie decorating station, and use this time with my legislative staff to provide office hours. Please feel free to stop by to connect, donate diapers, or decorate a cookie. A flier is attached here.
Table of Contents
- Legislative Updates
- Public Health Updates
- Cambridge Updates
- A Glimpse at the Past Week
- Mental Health Services and Resources
FY23 closeout supplemental budget update
I am proud to have voted alongside my House colleagues in support of the conference committee report negotiated by Ways and Means Committee Chair Aaron Michlewitz. I appreciate Speaker Ron Mariano and Chair Michlewitz’s leadership in the process. Thanks to the Speaker’s strong stance on upholding the right to shelter and ensuring that no one spends a night in a place not meant for human habitation, the Emergency Assistance (EA) shelter funding includes House-led stipulations that the Administration must stand up an overflow site for folks on the waitlist for an EA shelter. Funding for negotiated raises for public employees was among the other components of the closeout supplemental budget, and I am happy that we finally got state employees their hard-earned raises ahead of the holiday season.
Updates on bills I filed this session
An Act authorizing project labor agreements (H.3012), a bill I filed this session, was recently reported favorably out of the Joint Committee on State Administration and Regulatory Oversight and was referred to the House Committee on Ways & Means.
A project labor agreement (PLA) is a pre-hire collective bargaining agreement with one or more labor organizations that establishes the terms and conditions of employment for a specific construction project. The bill sets out the conditions upon which public agencies — including the Commonwealth, municipalities, or other public awarding organizations — can determine that it is in the best interest of the public to create a PLA, and establishes standard terms and conditions to be included in any PLA.
Public Health Updates
New Benefit Allowing Doula Service Coverage for MassHealth Members
Today, the Healey-Driscoll administration announced that MassHealth will now be covering doula services for pregnant, birthing, and postpartum members as part of its efforts to address health disparities in Massachusetts. Doulas provide non-medical support to birthing individuals and families, and their care has consistently been shown to improve maternal and infant health outcomes. With MassHealth covering about 40% of all births in Massachusetts, this step has the potential to save lives and improve the health of families. Since co-chairing the Special Commission on Racial Inequities in Maternal Health (see the report here), I have been advocating for coverage of doula services for birthing people. I was thrilled to see that, beginning in spring of 2024, MassHealth members will be able to access doula services.
Vaccinations for the Holiday Season
As the weather gets colder, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health urges residents to get vaccinated. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently published its recommendations on the annual flu shot, recommending routine annual influenza vaccination for all persons aged ≥ 6 months who do not have contraindications. Everyone aged 6 months and older are also recommended to receive an updated COVID-19 vaccine to protect against serious illness from COVID-19. Find a vaccine location near you at mass.gov/CovidVaccine.
New Study Shows High Brain Care Score Had Lower Risk of Dementia and Stroke Development
Researchers at MassGeneral’s McCance Center for Brain Health developed a tool, the Brain Care Score (BCS), to assess current brain health and determine the risk of developing brain diseases such as dementia or stroke and provide interventions and treatment options to reduce that risk. The BCS is composed of a series of questions related to physical, lifestyle, and social-emotional health components, including recommendations found in the American Heart Association’s novel construct of cardiovascular health.
Northampton and Greenfield’s Outdoor Narcan Boxes Get High Usage
In an effort to prevent overdose deaths in the city, Northampton became the first municipality within Hampshire, Hampden, and Franklin counties to install outdoor emergency boxes with kits containing Narcan, an FDA-approved drug to reverse opioid overdoses, with instructions of its administration in late August. The city already offered Narcan indoors in municipal buildings and other locations; however, those are often limited by the building’s business hours. The outdoor boxes intend to provide a more feasible approach to the accessibility of the overdose-reversal drug. Since their installations, the program has been a success for Northampton and is highly utilized. Greenfield has also installed Narcan boxes.
Cambridge Public Health Helpline Supports Residents with COVID-19
To speak with someone, call the confidential COVID-19 Hotline at 617-933-0797. Learn more here.
City Offering Free At-Home COVID Tests in Partnership with the Cambridge Health Alliance
The tests can be picked up Monday through Friday from 8:30 AM to 5:30 PM in the CHA lobby at 119 Windsor Street. Cambridge businesses or organizations that would like free rapid tests to provide to customers can call the COVID-19 hotline at 617-933-0797 to request them. The at-home COVID test expiration date can be checked here.
A Glimpse at the Past Week
Cambridge Community Center Sisters of the Center brunch
On Saturday, I attended the Cambridge Community Center’s Sisters of the Center awards brunch. It was amazing to see so many childhood friends and constituents and to celebrate the impactful programs at CCC and the deserving awardees: Angeliquć Serelda Smith, Claudia Battle, the late Representative Saundra Graham, and Paul Parravano.
MHA Annual Women Leaders in Healthcare Conference
On Thursday, I attended the Massachusetts Health & Hospital Association’s (MHA) Annual Women Leaders in Healthcare Conference. Congratulations to the awardees!
It was great to see so many friends and leaders in health equity, including author and keynote speaker Laurel Braitman, Amy Smaralz (MHA Director of Health Care Education and Professional Development), Valerie Fleishman (MHA Senior Vice President and Chief Innovation Officer), Dr. Thea James (MHA Board Member, Vice President of Mission at the Boston Medical Center, and a Cambridge resident!), Steve Walsh (MHA CEO), and Christine Schuster (CEO of Emerson Health and Chair of the MHA Board).
Joint Apprentice Training Center rededication
Congratulations to IBEW 103 and NECA on the ribbon cutting and rededication of their new Joint Apprentice Training Center (JATC) in Dorchester. It was great to hear Lou Antonellis, Business Manager for Local 103, and Secretary of Labor Lauren Jones speak about the new facility, which features state-of-the-art classrooms, labs, and shops to train 1,800 electricians and technician apprentices. You can find information about apprenticeship opportunities with IBEW 103 and NECA at the JATC here, and information about Building Pathways — a non-profit founded by the Greater Boston Building Trades Unions dedicated to the recruitment, retention, and advancement of under-represented groups in the building trades — here.
Pictured are myself and AFL-CIO of MA President Chrissy Lynch speaking with John Christianson, who works with folks with substance use disorders and in recovery.
Mental Health Services and Resources
If you or a loved one are struggling, please know you are not alone. There are some great resources here: https://www.decker4rep.com/2021/mental-health-services-and-resources/
Intimate Partner Abuse Prevention Helpline
This initiative is designed to prevent intimate partner violence by fostering accountability and change in people who harm or may harm their partner. You can find more information at 10to10helpline.org or by calling 877-898-3411.
Overdose Prevention Helpline
The Massachusetts Overdose Prevention Helpline is a virtual spotting/overdose detection service for people who use drugs. Learn more at: https://www.massoverdosehelpline.org, or access it by calling 800-972-0590.
As always, please contact me with questions or concerns at Marjorie.Decker@mahouse.gov.