The Massachusetts Senate passed a $3.82 billion spending bill with federal ARPA funds and FY21 state surplus. The spending package included $1 billion for the state’s healthcare system, $400 million for mental and behavioral health, $500 million in premium pay bonuses for essential workers, and $500 million for the state’s unemployment insurance trust fund.
The Massachusetts Senate released a new mental health bill known as the Mental Health ABC Act 2.0. The legislation addresses mental health parity, dedicating $122 million towards recruiting mental health professionals, and mainstreaming services in emergency departments. The Senate is expected to debate the bill this week.
On Friday, President Biden’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate was halted by US appellate court. The panel found that OSHA’s mandate requiring workers at companies with 100 employees or more be vaccinated or undergo weekly COVID-19 testing was “staggeringly overbroad.”
In Washington, President Joe Biden is expected to sign the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill into law. The spending package includes critical funds for transportation, utilities, and broadband, among other priorities. Meanwhile, the Congressional Budget Office is expected to release their score for the $1.75 trillion Build Back Better plan on Friday.
In Massachusetts, formal sessions for the state legislature end for the year on Wednesday, November 17. Lawmakers have just a handful of days to reconcile key pieces of legislation, including $3.82 billion ARPA spending bills and new Congressional and Governors Council districts. Formal sessions will resume on January 5, 2022.
The Health Policy Commission (HPC) will hold their annual Cost Trends hearing on Wednesday, November 17. The hearing will include remarks from Governor Baker and Attorney General Maura Healey. HPC’s 2021 Cost Trends report found that healthcare spending is above benchmarks, largely as a result of price growth, hospital spending, and unaffordable costs for low-income individuals and families. The report includes recommendations that healthcare providers and insurers take steps to address this increase in spending.
Michelle Wu will be sworn in as Mayor of Boston on Tuesday, November 16. A formal inauguration will take place in January 2022. Wu, the first woman and person of color elected Mayor of Boston, recently announced her transition team.