Legislative Agenda & Issues

LEGISLATIVE AGENDA: 2023 & 2024

PROTECTING PATIENT SAFETY

An Act Promoting Patient Safety and Equitable Access to Care
Senator Lydia Edwards/Representative Natalie Higgins
SD 1660 / HD 2491 
  • This bill would require the Department of Public Health to set limits on the number of patients a nurse can care for at one time. Limits would be set by hospital unit. A series of public hearings would be held to provide an opportunity for stakeholder input.
 
An Act Clarifying Mandatory Overtime Protections
Senator Nick Collins/Representative Carol Doherty
SD 1398 / HD 1781
  • This bill would clarify the prohibition on mandatory overtime in hospitals to ensure all hospitals are following the 2012 law.
 
An Act Relative to Maintaining Independent Authority Over Nursing Licensure in the Commonwealth
Senator Patrick O’Connor/Representative Denise Garlick
SD 324 / HD 1913
  • This bill would codify in statute that the Board of Registration in Nursing must maintain local and independent control over the practice and licensing of Nursing in Massachusetts.
 
An Act to Ensure Safe Medication Administration 
Senator Marc Pacheco/Representative Dan Donahue
SD 590 / HD 2998
  • This bill would prohibit the dangerous practice of unlicensed personnel distributing medication by codifying the language in statute- it is currently only prohibited via regulation.
 

WORKPLACE SAFETY

An Act Requiring Health Care Employers to Develop and Implement Programs to Prevent Workplace Violence
Senator Joan Lovely/Representative Denise Garlick
SD 580 / HD 1835
  • This bill would require healthcare employers to perform an annual safety risk assessment and, based on those findings, develop and implement programs to minimize the danger of workplace violence to employees and patients. It would also provide time off for healthcare workers assaulted on the job to address legal issues and require semi-annual reporting of assaults on healthcare employees. 
 
An Act Providing for Safe Patient Handling and Mobility in Certain Health Facilities
Senator Susan Moran/Representative Sarah Peake
SD 1766 / HD 2350
  • This bill would require healthcare facilities to adopt and implement a safe patient handling and mobility program to identify, assess, and develop strategies to control risk of injury to patients and healthcare workers associated with the lifting, transferring, repositioning, or movement of a patient or equipment. 
 
An Act Relative to Occupational Presumption and COVID-19
Senator Paul Feeney/Representative Tram Nguyen
SD 1663 / HD 623
  • This bill would presume any frontline healthcare worker who contracts COVID-19 during the period covered by Governor Baker’s state-of-emergency contracted the virus at work. It would also prohibit employers from requiring healthcare workers to use their own sick time, vacation time or other PTO to quarantine, treat or recover from COVID-19. 
 
An Act Providing Safeguards for Home Healthcare Workers 
Senator Walter Timilty/Representative Bruce Ayers 
SD 748 / HD 1210
  • This bill would require safety assessments of all home healthcare settings prior to services being provided. These assessments would include the current psychiatric/psychological/emotional status of patients and any other individuals who may be present. Any criminal history of patients or other individuals who may be present as well as the surrounding environment and the presence of any weapons. Home healthcare providers would be empowered to leave dangerous situations without loss of pay or disciplinary action and would be provided time off for healthcare workers assaulted on the job to address legal issues.
 
An Act Protecting Patients and Healthcare Workers from Exposure to Surgical Smoke
Senator Jo Comerford/Representative Jim Hawkins
SD 295 / HD 1065
  • This bill would require hospitals and ambulatory surgical centers (MSCs) to adopt and implement to ensure the elimination of surgical smoke by use of a smoke-evacuation system for each procedure that generates surgical smoke. 
 
An Act Strengthening the Penalty for Assault or Assault and Battery on an Emergency Medical Technician, Ambulance Operator, Ambulance Attendant or Health Care Provider 
Senator Mike Brady/Representative John Mahoney
SD 171 / HD 3268
  • This bill would increase the penalties for assaulting emergency medical technicians, ambulance operators, ambulance attendants and other healthcare providers, including nurses, and make it a felony punishable by up to five years in state prison.
 
An Act Relative to Creating Intensive Stabilization and Treatment Units within the Department of Mental Health 
Senator Marc Pacheco/Representative Patricia Haddad
SD 583 / HD 772
  • This bill would create two Intensive Stabilization and Treatment units within the Department of Mental Health- one for males and one for females. Under this bill, patients exhibiting extreme aggression, highly assaultive behavior and/or self-destructive behavior would be admitted to a specialized unit. These units would be highly physically separate, secure, structured environments with specially trained staff, in order to protect all patients and staff.
 
An Act Providing Appropriate Care for Certain Populations 
Senator Robyn Kennedy
SD 2041
  • This bill would require that certain patient populations admitted to state hospitals to be first placed in a designated forensic unit. Such unit would provide the appropriate care and environment for this patient population until such time as any redeterminations could be made. 
 
An Act Relative to Liability Protection for Disaster Volunteers 
Senator Michael Rush/Representative Sean Garballey
SD 552 / HD 2582
  • This bill would protect a nurse’s liability while serving as a volunteer. It would also address instances in which a nurse personally suffers an injury in the course of providing volunteer service in a disaster or emergency occurring in the Commonwealth and would consider a volunteer nurse who sustains injury or disability or who is killed while serving as a volunteer an employee of the Commonwealth with access to certain benefits associated with that designation.
 

PROTECTING HEALTHCARE ACCESS 

An Act Relative to the Closing of Hospital Essential Services
Senator Julian Cyr/Representative Ed Coppinger
SD 379 / HD 267
  • This bill would extend the official notice period to the Department of Public Health (DPH) in advance of a closure or discontinuation of health services and require any hospital proposing closure or discontinuation of health services to provide evidence of having notified and provided the opportunity for comment from affected municipalities before the notification period begins. The bill would also instruct the Attorney General to seek an injunction to maintain the essential services for the duration of the notice period and require the Attorney General to sign on any closure or discontinuation of services deemed “essential” by the DPH. Additionally, it would prohibit the hospital from eligibility for an application for licensure or expansion for a period of three years from the date the service is discontinued, or until the essential health service is restored, or until such time as DPH is satisfied with a modified plan. It would also prohibit the closure of beds, units or facilities during any declared public health state-of-emergency.
 
The Hospital Profit Transparency and Fairness Act 
Senator Michael Moore/Representative Josh Cutler
SD 1876 / HD 60
  • This bill would require hospitals to be transparent about their financial holdings and other activities, assess any hospital receiving taxpayer dollars that has an annual operating margin above a specific, predetermined cap and assess any hospital receiving taxpayer dollars that provides a compensation package for its CEO that is greater than 100 times that of the hospital's lowest paid employee. These assessments would be deposited in a newly created Medicaid Reimbursement Enhancement Fund to increase Medicaid reimbursement rates to eligible hospitals to limit excessive CEO salaries and to limit and claw back excess profits to ensure that taxpayer dollars are dedicated exclusively to safe patient care and necessary services for all communities in the Commonwealth.
 
An Act Assessing Healthcare Access 
Senator Jake Oliveira/Representative Ted Philips
SD 807 / HD 3150
  • This bill calls for a study to examine the current state of our healthcare system and access to essential health services. It would examine existing capacity, projected need and the effect of closures and service discontinuation over the past thirty years.
 
An Act Preserving Access to Hospital Services 
Senator Paul Mark/Representative Pete Capano
SD 1902 / HD 913
  • This bill would require the Department of Public Health to establish a process for state receivership for any hospital or free-standing clinic that provides essential health services and closes without providing the required 90 day notice or closes a hospital or free standing clinic following a determination by the DPH that a closure would constitute a discontinuation of services necessary for preserving access and health status in the hospital or free standing clinic’s service area. 
 
An Act Relative to Creating a Pilot Program to Transfer High Acuity Behavioral Health and Dual Diagnosis Patients Away from Over Crowded Emergency Departments 
Senator Marc Pacheco/Representative Patricia Haddad
SD 589 / HD 771
  • This bill would create a pilot program at Taunton State Hospital to transfer medically stable, high acuity behavioral health and dual diagnosis patients away from overcrowded emergency departments until such time that an appropriate placement is found to meet the patient's needs.
 

OTHER

An Act Relative to Credible Service for School Nurses 
Representative Kathy LaNatra
HD 1401
  • This bill would permit school nurses to buy back up to three years of time spent working in the private sector as a nurse. The nurse must pay into the pension system what s/he would have paid for those three years, or fraction thereof, plus interest. Any time thus purchased would be counted toward the nurse's number of years of service when calculating their pension.
 
An Act Improving Fiscal Transparency 
Representative Lindsay Sabadosa
HD 1511
  • This bill would require that fiscal analysis of ballot questions be undertaken in consultation with the Attorney General and Secretary of State.
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