HB1162, HB1219, SB1265
Emergency Medical Services; Vital Records; Disposition of Remains

The Massachusetts Health & Hospital Association (MHA), on behalf of its member hospitals, health systems, physician organizations and allied healthcare providers, appreciates this opportunity to offer comments with regard to legislation dealing with emergency medical services, fetal infant mortality information and first responder infection exposure.

MHA strongly supports HB1162, which seeks to enhance the current Good Samaritan law with needed protections for first responders and public safety officials who attempt to assist an individual suffering from a drug overdose. This bill would add first responders to the list of healthcare providers with public protection from liability for their actions in life-saving treatment. In doing so, it will help ensure that patients suffering from opioid addictions receive the timely care they desperately need. We applaud the work by the legislature and the Baker Administration to develop several new statutory requirements to: reduce the use of opioids; educate the general public on the risks of using opioids; and improve disposal options/services for these medications. However, despite the fact that there is a downward trend in the number of opioid prescriptions being issued, addiction challenges and overdoses continue in every community. Proposals such as HB1162 are critical to ensuring front-line providers have the protection needed to properly evaluate and respond to overdose cases.

MHA supports HB1219, which provides state authorization to local health agencies to collect information on any fetal or infant death that occurs in the agency’s jurisdiction. MHA strongly endorses this proposal, which will provide actual local data and analysis of deaths that may be used to enhance local health policy programs. A significant problem with many statewide reporting requirements, such as those related to fetal and infant mortality reviews, is that the data is never made available to local public health agencies or facilities that can best utilize the data to develop internal quality improvement actions or consider community benefits programs that target societal risk factors that might help prevent or reduce such deaths. By providing a local healthcare authority with the ability to obtain and analyze such data, this legislation will create greater opportunities for healthcare provider partnerships and evidence-based solutions to address public health concerns for vulnerable populations.

MHA strongly supports SB1265, which provides for a structured process for first responders to receive test results of an infectious disease if they are exposed when responding to an emergency call or transporting a patient to a healthcare facility. While we believe that this bill should be expanded to include all healthcare providers, we believe that first responders should be given the necessary information to safeguard their own health. It is critical to note that this bill does not require testing without the patient’s consent. Instead, it directly provides the first responder with the test information if the patient consents or provides the first responder with notice that the patient did not consent and how to seek a court order requiring such testing. When an exposure occurs, there is a
short window of time for gaining knowledge about the type of exposure and the prescriptive
treatment that is necessary to prevent major illness. SB1265 will help advance access to needed
information for first responders.

Thank you for the opportunity to offer testimony on this important matter. If you have any questions,
or require further information, please contact Michael Sroczynski, MHA’s Vice President of
Government Advocacy, at (781) 262-6055 or msroczynski@mhalink.org.