House Passes Measure to Provide More Than $1 Billion in Federal Reimbursement for COVID-19 Needs
Doherty Files Amendment to Preserve Beds, Employees, and Services at Taunton State Hospital
BOSTON — Last week Representative Carol Doherty (D-Taunton), along with her colleagues in the House of Representatives, voted to pass a supplemental budget to facilitate federal CARES Act funding to reimburse communities hard-hit by COVID-19.
The spending measure follows the April passage in Congress of the federal CARES Act, which requires states to expend funds on items related to COVID-19 for federal reimbursement. The supplemental budget directs funds to address vital needs, including personal protective equipment, field hospitals, and contact tracing.
“This supplemental budget will allow us to access federal funds for PPE, contact tracing, childcare support and other critical areas that need additional funding to help us fight COVID-19. I thank Speaker DeLeo, Chairman Aaron Michlewitz, and my colleagues in the House for their work on this bill,” said Representative Doherty.
Representative Doherty filed an amendment that was included in the final version of the bill that will preserve the number of beds, employees, and services at Taunton State Hospital for another year. This language is typically included every year as part of the full fiscal year budget, but it was critical to include it in this supplemental budget to ensure that there is no attempt to lower the number of beds, employees, and services at Taunton State Hospital in the interim period between the start of the new fiscal year and when the FY2021 budget is passed and signed by Governor Baker. The amendment was co-sponsored by the two other members of Taunton’s House delegation, Representatives Patricia Haddad (D-Somerset) and Norman Orrall (R-Lakeville), as well as Representative James Hawkins (D-Attleboro).
“By including this amendment, we once again reaffirm our commitment to protecting the quality mental health services that are provided to residents from all over southeastern Massachusetts at Taunton State Hospital,” Doherty said. “Mental health services are essential services, and we must do all that we can to preserve and expand access to these services.”
The spending bill includes, among other items:
- $350 Million for personal protective equipment costs across the Commonwealth;
- $139 Million for increased rate add-ons to congregate care providers;
- $94 Million for incentive pay for human service employees;
- $85 Million for field hospitals and shelters;
- $44 Million for Community Tracing Collaborative;
- $81.6 Million for child care needs during the pandemic and re-opening;
- $500,000 to create an Early Education and Care Public-Private Trust Fund to establish an infrastructure to foster public-private and philanthropic efforts in support of childcare providers.
The bill also establishes Juneteenth Independence Day on June 19th in Massachusetts, marking the day in 1865 when the enslaved people of Galveston, Texas learned they were free. “I am very pleased to support making Juneteenth a Massachusetts holiday,” said Doherty. “This inspiring action is a small but profound step taken by the House of Representatives in recognition of the end of slavery and the fight for equality. It is important that we celebrate this day, while we commit ourselves to fighting for racial justice and true equality.”
The bill now moves to the Senate.