Cindy FriedmanFriedman

Sen. Cindy Friedman (D-Arlington) on March 3 joined her colleagues in the state Senate to pass two bills aimed at expanding equitable health-care access for women in Massachusetts.

One bill would help to address the crisis in maternal health by ensuring that pregnant and postpartum mothers and birthing people get necessary and potentially life-saving health care by extending MassHealth insurance coverage to 12 months after pregnancy.

A second bill would direct the state to provide menstrual products free of cost in certain public places, including schools, correctional facilities, and shelters and other temporary housing.

“I was proud to support these two initiatives which will bring further access and equity to our state’s health care system,” said Friedman, chair of the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing, in a March 8 news release. “Menstruation should never be stigmatized in any setting and ensuring maternal health-care coverage for 12 months after pregnancy is the right thing to do and could even provide life-saving care for new mothers and their children. I am very grateful to my fellow Senators for taking steps to address these very important issues.”

According to a recent report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of women identified as having died of maternal causes in the United States climbed from 658 in 2018 to 861 in 2020, with the maternal death rate for black women reaching an alarming 55.3 deaths per 100,000 live births.

Under the maternal health legislation, MassHealth would be directed to provide standard coverage for eligible pregnant and postpartum residents of the Commonwealth for 12 months after the end of the pregnancy. Additionally, the secretary of the Executive Office of Health and Human Services would be directed to maximize federal financial participation for coverage and benefits of eligible pregnant and postpartum residents. This bill follows last year’s Maternal Health Equity legislation, which was signed into law in January 2021.

The legislation on menstrual products would require primary and secondary schools, temporary housing facilities such as shelters, correctional institutions, jails, and houses of correction to provide safe, disposable menstrual products in a convenient and non-stigmatizing way, at no cost to recipients.

The two bills head to the Massachusetts House of Representatives for consideration.

Feb. 23, 2022: Mass. Women’s Bar Association names Friedman Public Official of Year

This news announcement was published Wednesday, March 9, 2022. YourArlington volunteer Kim Haase prepared the news release for publication.