The House gaveled into the second day of budget deliberations Thursday and approved a second mega-amendment dealing with health and human services, public health, elder affairs, mental health, and disability services topics.
Although a holiday offered a reprieve to some during budget week, House Ways and Means Chairman Aaron Michlewitz said Tuesday that he and other staff members would be working through Veterans Day. Lawmakers used most of the first budget session to meet privately in Zoom calls to wrangle some of the over 700 amendments to the budget bill, including those contained in the second consolidated amendment.
The bundle, which the House unanimously approved on Thursday, includes funding for prevention, intervention, and recovery services, local earmarks for youth development initiatives, money for services to address behavioral health needs arising from the impact of COVID-19, and sets up a trust fund administered by the secretary of health and human services for Medicaid payments to nonpublic ambulance services.
Another portion of the amendment directs the Department of Public Health to issue a report by Feb. 1, 2021 on rules, regulations, guidance, and best practices to prevent the transmission of COVID-19 from patients discharged from hospital facilities to nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, skilled nursing facilities, and other congregate care facilities.
The House on Tuesday approved the first consolidated amendment dealing with local aid, education, transportation, social services, veteran services, and soldiers' homes.
Just after noon on Thursday, the House had not yet dealt with three closely watched amendments related to abortion access in Massachusetts (759), an extension of the eviction and foreclosure moratorium through at least Jan. 1, 2021 (777), and requiring the governor to fill a U.S. Senate vacancy with an appointee of the same political party as the person leaving office (578).