2011-2012 Human Services Legislative Agenda
Prior to the 2011-12 legislative session, the Providers' Council surveyed its statewide membership of human services providers about the challenges and opportunities that can be addressed to create a stronger community safety net. Our legislative agenda is based on their feedback. Their interests, along with supportive information from our Public Policy Committee and our Board of Directors, helped to establish these priority areas.
The six bills for the 2011-2012 legislative session provide a roadmap for the Commonwealth to strengthen our critical social safety net by:
- enabling providers to direct more funding toward programs and services through creative affordable health insurance solutions
- professionalizing and retaining a skilled workforce through expanded educational opportunities
- diversifying revenue and reducing dependence on state contracts by fostering innovation and social enterprise
Together, human service providers, their staff, clients/consumers, boards, volunteers, and supportive community members will come together as one caring force to urge their legislators to co-sponsor and vote for these important initiatives.
We hope you will get involved today and help pass bills that will strengthen our safety net!
- Call both your state senator and state representative and introduce yourself to their legislative aide (find out who represents you and their phone numbers here). Ask them if the representative or senator would consider co-sponsoring legislation designed to help you and 185,000 of your colleagues. Then discuss the six bills listed with them (they will most likely ask who the sponsor is and a little about the bill).
- Send your senator and representative a message with more information about the bills to urge their support. This only takes a minute to complete and it sends a message directly from you to your elected representatives.
You can view and download a two-page PDF or our legislative agenda or see more detail about the six bills we are introducing for the 2011-2012 legislative session below.
If you have any questions about the Council's legislation, please call Bill Yelenak at 617.428.3637 x122 or e-mail him.
1. We will refile our Group Insurance Commission legislation that would enable providers to voluntarily pursue insurance through the state's group buying program. This could allow some providers the opportunity to save costs on health insurance. Sponsor: Rep. Kay Khan, Newton
2. We will file legislation that will allow “eligible” human services employees to seek insurance through the Massachusetts Health Insurance Connector, even if their employer offers a health insurance plan. This would give employees access to the low-cost plans offered by the state and help them afford health insurance. Sponsor: Sen. Richard Moore, Worcester
3. We will file legislation to become an insurance buying cooperative in the state. Under the new small business health insurance reform act, the state will create six cooperatives or aggregators and will enable these entities to purchase insurance for business groups with 50 or fewer employees. We would seek to gain status as a cooperative specifically for the human services sector and ask the state to drop the provision regarding the number of employees. Sponsor: Sen. Richard Moore, Worcester
4. We will refile our tuition remission legislation that seeks to expand our already successful program to include graduate-level courses and continuing education courses. We would also seek to offer tuition remission benefits to a worker's spouse, similar to the benefit of state employees. This program has issued more than 16,000 certificates to human services employees seeking an education. Sponsor: Senator Gale Candaras, Springfield
5. We will refile our loan repayment legislation for credentialed direct care human services workers. In an effort to attract educated workers into the human services field, we must ensure they are able to remain in a sector that is historically underpaid while repaying their student loans. This would enable qualified direct care workers to receive $150 per month toward their student loan for a period not to exceed 48 months. Sponsor: Senator Gale Candaras, Springfield
6. We will file legislation to support the growth of human services social enterprises by creating an incentive for state procurement officers to purchase services and goods from social enterprises without going through a lengthy bid process. Human services social enterprises are market-oriented businesses that operate for the purpose of supporting people served and/or developing a new revenue source. This legislation would allow procurement officers to make purchases of $25,000 and under from a human service enterprise without issuing an RFR. Sponsor: Rep. Linda Dorcena Forry, Dorchester