Page 16 THE MALDEN ADVOCATE–Friday, November 19, 2021 Sen. Lewis joins bipartisan vote for sweeping legislation to improve access to mental health care O n November 17, Senator Jason Lewis recently joined his colleagues in the Massachusetts Senate to unanimously pass An Act addressing barriers to care for mental health (Mental Health ABC Act), which is comprehensive legislation with the goal of ensuring that all Massachusetts residents can access the mental health care they need when they need it. This legislation builds on previous mental health reforms made by the state legislature, and it comes at the same time that the Senate is proposing to invest $400 million of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to strengthen Massachusetts’s behavioral health system. This legislation is driven by the recognition that mental health is as important as physical health for every resident of the Commonwealth and should be treated as such. The bill proposes a wide variety of reforms to ensure equitable access to mental health care, and to remove barriers to care by supporting and growing the behavioral health workforce. “Health care should be a basic human right, but too many people in Massachusetts right now struggle to access high quality, affordable, and timely mental health care,” said Lewis. “I’m very pleased that the state Senate has prioritized improving access to mental health care through the passage of this critical legislation, and I’m grateful to all the constituents and advo~ Legal Notice ~ Early Notice and Public Review of a Proposed Activity in a 100-Year Floodplain Roosevelt Park Improvements Malden, MA To: All interested Agencies, Groups and Individuals This is to give notice that the City of Malden, MA (the City) has determined that portions of the following proposed action which will be funded in part by the Department of Housing and Urban Development Section 108 Loan Guarantee Program through the Community Development Block Grant program is located in a 100-year floodplain, and the City will be identifying and evaluating practicable alternatives to locating the action in the floodplain and the potential impacts on the floodplain from the proposed action, as required by Executive Order 11988, in accordance with HUD regulations at 24 CFR 55.20 Subpart C Procedures for Making Determinations on Floodplain Management and Protection of Wetlands. The proposed action is to make improvements to Roosevelt Park (the Park). The Park is situated on a 3.76-acre parcel located on Salem Street adjacent to the Salemwood School in Malden, Middlesex County, MA. The Park is a key recreational asset that is used for the City’s organized school, youth and adult sports and recreation programs; informal active and passive recreational activities; and community events. In addition to these uses, the Park also supports the Salemwood School and its programs during school hours. The proposed project will provide for the reconstruction of an existing multi-use field with a new multi-use synthetic turf field and related improvements. The related improvements will include improved field and site drainage; earthwork including removal and proper disposal of urban fill beneath the athletic field; site grading that will improve surface runoff and protect against the loss of flood storage; the replacement of portions of the municipal and site storm drain systems that run under the field; an improved outdoor classroom; and other miscellaneous site improvements including basketball shooting areas, new ADA compliant walks, site fencing, seat walls, shade trees, and landscaping. The improvements will affect approximately 2.9 acres (77% of the 3.76-acre parcel). Approximately 60% (1.7 acres) of the area that will be affected by the project is located within a Special Flood Hazard Area Zone A (100-Year Flood, No Base Flood Elevation Determined) as depicted on FEMA/FIRM Map No. 25017C0441E, effective date June 4, 2010. Floodplain provides flood control and storm damage protection. Flood control means the prevention or reduction of flooding and flood damage. Storm damage prevention means the prevention of damage caused by water from storms, including, but not limited to, erosion and sedimentation, damage to vegetation, property or buildings, or damage caused by flooding or water-borne debris. The floodplain at the Park primarily provides temporary floodwater storage and conveyance and modest groundwater recharge. The proposed improvements will not adversely impact the floodplain’s ability to perform these functions. In some instances, floodplains also provide wildlife habitat. The floodplain at the Park has been used for many years as part of the Park’s recreational area. This usage over the past 100-plus years degraded any potential wildlife habitat in the floodplain. According to Massachusetts wetland regulations, land subject to flooding that is not significant to the protection of wildlife habitat includes playgrounds, lawns, gardens, paved and graveled areas, railroad tracks (including ballast and embankments), and similar areas lawfully existing on November 1, 1987 and maintained as such since that time. There are three primary purposes for this notice. First, people who may be affected by activities in floodplains and those who have an interest in the protection of the natural environment should be given an opportunity to express their concerns and provide information about these areas. Commenters are encouraged to offer alternative sites outside of the floodplain, alternative methods to serve the same project purpose, and methods to minimize and mitigate impacts. Second, an adequate public notice program can be an important public educational tool. The dissemination of information and request for public comment about floodplains can facilitate and enhance Federal efforts to reduce the risks and impacts associated with the occupancy and modification of these special areas. Third, as a matter of fairness, when the Federal government determines it will participate in actions taking place in floodplains, it must inform those who may be put at greater or continued risk. Written comments must be received by the City at the following address on or before December 10, 2021: City of Malden Office of Strategic Planning and Community Development, 215 Pleasant Street, 3rd Floor, Malden, MA 02148 and (781) 324-5720, Attention: Deborah A. Burke, Director. A full description of the project may also be reviewed at the Office of Strategic Planning and Community Development, Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday 8:00 am and 5:00 pm and Tuesday 8:00 am and 7:00 pm and at https://cityofmalden.org/781/Roosevelt-Park-Project. Comments may also be submitted via email at info@maldenredevelopment.com. Date: 11/19/2021 cates who have shared with me their heartbreaking struggles in accessing the care that they or a loved one desperately need.” “The need and demand for mental health services has soared as a result of the pandemic, and anyone who has tried to find help for mental health concerns will vouch for the many barriers that still exist,” said Massachusetts Association for Mental Health (MAMH) President/CEO Danna Mauch. “This bill tackles some of our most difficult challenges. These challenges include insurance company policies that make it hard to pay for care, a lack of providers across the Commonwealth but especially in communities of color, and care that too often is fragmented and siloed. The bill’s provisions provide creative, practical steps toward addressing these issues and it looks ahead to creation of a comprehensive system of effective crisis services.” Key provisions in this sweeping legislation include: • Guaranteeing annual mental health wellness exams: The idea that a person’s mental health is just as important as a person’s physical health is the cornerstone of this reform. This bill would codify this principle by mandating coverage for an annual mental health wellness exam – comparable to an annual physical. • Enforcing mental health parity laws: Mental health parity as a concept is simple: Insurance coverage for mental health care should be equal to insurance coverage for any other medical condition. This concept has been codified in federal and state law for decades, but enforcement of the law has been challenging. As a result, inequities persist, and patients are often denied coverage for mental health treatment that is every bit as critical to managing their health as treatment for diabetes or heart disease. This bill provides the state with better tools to implement and enforce its parity laws by creating a clear structure for the Division of Insurance to receive and investigate parity complaints to ensure their timely resolution. Other tools include parity enforcement for commercial, state-contracted and student health insurance plans, greater reporting and oversight of insurance carriers’ mental health care coverage processes and policies, and reasonable penalties and alternative remedies for when an insurance company does not comply with the law. • Addressing the Emergency Department boarding crisis: For many adults and children in the grips of a mental health crisis, the fastest way to get help is to go to a hospital emergency department (ED). Sadly, when they need to be admitted to an inpatient psychiatric unit, it can be days, weeks or even months before they’re admitted. Meanwhile, the person must often wait in the ED, receiving little to no psychiatric care. This is referred to as “ED boarding,” and it has increased up to 400% since LEWIS | SEE PAGE 18

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