BOSTON (6/26/2020) –The Massachusetts Senate unanimously passed the Patients First Act, the third piece of signature healthcare legislation advanced by the body to increase access to health care, protect patients, and enhance quality care. The legislation builds on vital lessons learned during the COVID-19 public health crisis, as unprecedented demands on the healthcare system have prompted innovation and the expedited adoption of policy changes.

“During this pandemic we have seen the use and popularity of telehealth services expand rapidly, and for good reason,” commented Senator Anne Gobi (D-Spencer) on the bill’s passage. “Our actions here reflect the changing needs of our communities, and I am glad that we have prioritized the need to ensure these services remain affordable and accessible while keeping patients protected from out-of-network costs.”

The Patients First Act ensures that telehealth services are available across the Commonwealth –services that have experienced a dramatic expansion during the COVID-19 pandemic, enabling patients across the state to continue receiving vital medical care through phone or videoconference without risking exposure to the coronavirus. Experience from the last few months has shown that telehealth has the ability to improve efficiency and expand access to care. These services, however, were not widely utilized before COVID-19.

The bill does the following to put patients first: