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There's More to Health Reform than "Health Reform" by John McDonough

OK, I should say, there’s more to health reform than Chapter 58, but this headline seemed catchier. So what else is there?

We know cost control is the elephant in the room – and we keep our fingers crossed that the Quality/Cost Council will make some magic happen real soon.

We know racial and ethnic health disparities are lessened significantly when almost everyone has insurance coverage, and we know that eliminating disparities requires more than coverage – the Legislature’s Public Health Committee will be holding a public hearing on omnibus disparities legislation sponsored by Rep. Byron Rushing and others on May 16 (H2234).

We know eliminating medical errors and improving quality is essential to prevent injury and death as well as to reduce waste. HCFA’s Consumer Quality Council has a suggestion in the form of S1277 and H2226 sponsored by Sen. Dick Moore and Rep. Denise Provost.

This week, health reform means focusing on fixing the mental health system for children in Massachusetts.

This week is Children’s Mental Health Week across the nation, and today starting at 11am, the Legislature’s Committee on Mental Health and Substance Abuse is hosting a major public hearing in Gardner Auditorium at the State House to hear public testimony to S1133 and H1872 sponsored by Sen. Steve Tolman and Rep. Ruth Balser: An Act Expanding and Improving Children’s Behavioral Health Services in the Commonwealth.

This legislation was created by an unprecedented coalition of advocates, led by the Mass. Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, Children’s Hospital Boston, the Parent Professional Advocacy League, Health Law Advocates, Health Care For All, the Children’s Health Access Coalition, and many more.

It’s needed because the system serving children in need of mental health services in Massachusetts is in real crisis. Seventy percent of the 146,419 children and adolescents who need behavioral health services in Massachusetts between 2005 and 2007 did not receive them. This unprecedented partnership of legislators, agency officials, and outside advocates has documented the staggering problem, crafted a nuanced and bold policy solution, and is working hard to summon the political will necessary for change.Click here for information on the legislation and the campaign. And c’mon up to the State House today if you can to be part of the next stage of Massachusetts health reform.

John McDonough is the Executive Director of Health Care for All

This program aired on May 7, 2007. The audio for this program is not available.

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