Rep. Garballey plays role in defending children's health insurance

Sean Garballey

Baker signs birth-control bill

UPDATED, Nov. 21: Rep. Sean Garballey, Democrat of Arlington, is leading the fight for children's health insurance in the Commonwealth, after Congress allowed federal funding for the Children's Health Insurance Program, called CHIP, to expire in September.

House Bill 598, "An Act to Ensure Continued Health Coverage for Children," filed by Garballey with Rep. Claire Cronin, Democrat of Easton, will preserve coverage for lower-income families and pregnant women in the Commonwealth. The measure aims to make sure that Massachusetts leads the nation by example and funds this program, even if the federal government will not.

"Massachusetts needs to step in and fund CHIP if Congress does not act quickly," Garballey said in a recent news release. "We risk roughly 160,000 children in Massachusetts losing coverage -- and any such gap occurring while transitioning to alternative insurance is a disruption in delivery of care, which could negatively impact the long term health of this vulnerable population. I am proud to work on this legislation and ensure coverage for this segment of our population in Massachusetts, regardless of the federal government's actions."

CHIP covers about 25 percent of the children in MassHealth, The program is funded by both the federal government and Massachusetts. CHIP ensures health insurance for children whose families do not qualify for Medicaid, but would otherwise have trouble meeting the financial requirements for private coverage.

This program is a significant reason that Massachusetts has the highest of insured children in the United States, the release says.

The CHIP benefit package is designed to meet the health needs of children and youth by providing a range of services including preventive screenings, dental care, behavioral health care, and vision and hearing treatments. Currently, for each dollar Massachusetts spends on CHIP, the federal government reimburses 88 cents, as opposed to 50 cents for the majority of Medicaid, the release notes.

Separately, the state House of Representatives on Nov. 9 passed a bill aimed at protecting access to birth control in Massachusetts.

Cosponsor of the legislation, called Advancing Contraception Coverage and Economic Security in our State, or ACCESS, were Garballey and Rep. Dave Rogers. Filing the legislation were Pat Haddad and John Scibak.
The House of Representatives has passed the Advancing Contraception Coverage and Economic Security in our State - ACCESS Bill. I was proud to cosponsor and vote, along with Rep. Dave Rogers, yesterday to protect access to birth control in Massachusetts. Thank you Pat Haddad and John Scibak for filing this legislation.

For details, read a Globe summary >>

Representative, Friedman back ACCESS

On Nov. 14, the state Senate voted 27-0 to enact that ACCESS Bill. Among the supporters was Sen. Cindy Friedman, Democrat of Arlington.

"At a time when women's health and reproductive rights are under unprecedented attack at the federal level, Massachusetts has taken the lead once again to safeguard over 1 million women who depend on access to no-copay birth control and to expand coverage for everyone," she said in a news release. "All women, regardless of economic status, should have access to affordable birth control of their choice, and the ACCESS Bill guarantees that."

Governor Baker signed the bill on Nov. 20.

Garballey wrote on Arlington Resist Facebook on Nov. 21: "Proud to say Massachusetts is now the first state in the nation to guarantee free, no copay birth control in the wake of the Trump/GOP effort to rollback access to contraceptive care!"

These news announcements were published Monday, Nov. 20, 2017, and updated Nov. 21.