NANCY CHIERO WAS as devoted as she was patient with her son Lee. The 35-year-old Uxbridge man had spent his life struggling with psychotic delusions, which would periodically send him to the emergency room for a prescription for medications. Those brought a brief respite, but Lee, who lived in his mother’s basement, would soon cycle off the meds and the visions would return. In 2007, caught in the grips of paranoia, he pushed her down the stairs and fatally stabbed her in the eyes — capturing the murder on videotape.
The story of the Uxbridge mother and son is emblematic of the state’s failed policies for treating those with serious mental illness. In a powerful series called “The Desperate and the Dead,” the Globe’s Spotlight team chronicled decades of tepid response, persistent underfunding, and governmental neglect that has thrown mentally ill patients into the streets and left families, police, and ER doctors with an enormous burden of care.
Since 2005, the series reported, more than 10 percent of all state homicides in which a suspect is known were allegedly committed by people with a history of mental illness or its clear symptoms. The Globe built a first-ever database of such cases; the numbers show that over the past 11 years at least 139 people in Massachusetts have died violently at the hands of a person with a diagnosed mental illness, or strong signs of one.
The arc of mental health care was supposed to be different, especially in the Bay State, where Frederick Wiseman’s shocking 1967 documentary, “Titicut Follies,” exposed humiliations inflicted on patients at Bridgewater State Hospital for the criminally insane and prompted pledges for change. State officials moved to shut down mental hospitals, with the aim of placing patients in more humane community clinics. The number of inpatient psychiatric beds in the state declined to 671 as of last year, from a peak of 23,560 in 1953, according to Spotlight.
But that robust system of community care never materialized. State officials slashed funding for inpatient mental health care by more than half from 1994 to 2013, at the same time that some treatment was being farmed out to private companies and nonprofits. But nearly a third of community mental health providers in Massachusetts reported closing clinics from 2013 to 2015, including the sort of intensive programs that could have benefited Nancy Chiero and her son.
Closing the gaps left by the legacy of deinstitutionalization is, front and center, an essential job of government. Cities like San Antonio provide a model, with aggressive funding of a system to handle psychiatric and substance abuse crises and move people from jails and ERs into treatment, Spotlight reports. There are other signs of progress in Massachusetts: In 2015, the state received nearly $1 million in federal seed money intended to establish pilot community clinics. And Governor Charlie Baker’s administration has put $41 million into MassHealth reimbursement rates — as private insurers seem to be fleeing in droves.
Finally, change is needed in state law in order to protect families, friends, and the public from mentally ill patients who pose a danger to others. Massachusetts, with its strong support for civil liberties, is one of only four states without a law that allows courts to compel patients with a history of noncompliance to undergo treatment. Such “assisted outpatient treatment” laws have led to better health outcomes in other states: patients are escorted to settings where they receive required medications. And while psychiatric medications can cause unwanted side effects — and research sometimes seems stuck in another era — they can also be effective in quelling symptoms.
It’s important to note that the vast number of those with mental illness are not violent, and feel stigmatized by any broad-brush approach. But legislators could couple the law with more funding for community clinics, as well as education and training. It could ultimately help patients like Lee Chiero and those who love them.
WASHINGTON—SEIU International President Mary Kay Henry issued the following statement on President-elect Trump’s intended nomination of Andrew Puzder, chief executive of CKE Restaurants, to be Secretary of Labor:
“With the intended nomination of Andrew Puzder for Secretary of Labor, President-elect Trump has once again shown how out-of-touch he is with what working Americans need. Working families, including those who elected him, issued a mandate for economic change because they are sick and tired of working longer and harder than ever but still struggling to build a better future for their families. Puzder has proven he doesn’t support working people: he opposes raises to the minimum wage, even though every time Americans have been called to vote for raises on the ballot, they always do.
“Throughout his career, Andrew Puzder has shown he does not believe in the dignity of all work and has used his position to line his own pockets at the expense of workers. In 2012, Puzder made $4.4 million, a full 291 times more than the average food worker. He doesn’t support measures that would help families who work hard build a better life, such as the overtime rule, which would put more money in the pockets of millions of workers for the extra work they do. He wants machines to replace workers because robots ‘never take a vacation’ – even though robots can not ever replace the work that people do. He has stood with Republican congressional leaders who want to repeal the Affordable Care Act – even though his underpaid workers and millions of working Americans depend on it for healthcare.
“Working Americans aren’t fooled by the anti-worker Trump-Puzder vision for America. They know it threatens their ability to have a voice and to provide for their families. That is why millions of American workers continue to come together through the Fight for $15 movement to make President-elect Trump and his administration deal with our economic reality. Together, workers in the Fight for $15 movement have made the kind of economic change America is crying out for by paving the way for 20 million people to get a raise. SEIU members will not back down, we will stay in the streets to fight back against anti-worker extremism and we will not stop until all work in valued and every community in America has the opportunity to thrive.”
There’s no point in sugar-coating it. We were disappointed with much of the results on November 8. And regardless of how you voted, there’s no doubt the outcome of at least one race or ballot initiative bothered you too. With so many important issues at stake and so many mixed messages sent by voters across the country, we have a lot to think about in the wake of the 2016 election.
One thing is for certain: change is coming, and it’s up to us to make sure our work continues and our communities stay strong in the face of whatever comes next.
So we have to ask ourselves: What kind of state and country do we want to live in? What action are we willing to take to protect the things we value and make change where it’s needed?
No matter what challenges we may face, know that this union will continue to stand up for human service workers, educators and the communities we live in — particularly those who who have been targeted by the disturbing rhetoric of this campaign. We will stand in support of those who feel threatened — whether due to their gender identity, orientation, faith, ethnicity or immigration status. We will stand for public and private sector workers whose right to collectively bargain will no doubt come under attack. We will stand with those fighting for a clean environment, criminal justice reform, economic equality and many other important causes.
In short, we will stand together because we are stronger together.
And we’d like to invite you to an upcoming event where we will begin to chart our course forward:
Friday, January 6
9:00AM to 5:00PM
(meals and translation services provided)
293 Boston Post Road West | Marlborough, MA
Join fellow SEIU members and community allies for a two-day ‘Legislative and Electoral Accountability Training’ January 6th at our office in Marlborough. With the 2016 elections behind us, we now turn our attention to holding elected officials of both parties at all levels of government accountable to an agenda that puts working families first.
We will train attendees on the budget and legislative process, learn best practices on motivating colleagues to take action, hear from elected officials from both major parties, and have an open discussion to help determine issue priorities for the coming year and beyond.
Members will need to use their own time off (personal, vacation, flex, etc.), though our union will be reimburse for lost time/compensation and travel. Translation will be available. Space is limited, so be sure to RSVP today.
Even if these specific dates don’t work for you, there are a host of ways you can become more involved in our union and its initiatives:
Needless to say, this is a critical time for human service workers, educators and the populations we serve. Our combined energy, strength and vision is more important than ever — so please don’t hesitate to contact us with your thoughts and ideas. We look forward to hearing from you!
Thank you for all you do!
Increase Funding at the Department of Children and Families
Keep at-risk kids safe from abuse and neglect by supporting the funding increases needed to hire additional DCF social workers to reduce caseloads for front-line social workers and investigators.
Keep Health Insurance Costs from Increasing for State Workers
Allow state employees to continue to pay the same premium share through the GIC, which potentially saving our families upwards of $2,000 a year in increased health insurance costs.
Increase Access to Early Ed with a Living Wage for Providers
Upwards of 40,000 kids remain on a wait list for affordable child care and early education opportunities in MA. Meanwhile, family child care educators who provide these essential services struggle to make ends meet. We must continue to fight for appropriate funding to reduce this wait list and support the efforts to increase provider salaries to $15 an hour.
Pass the “Millionaires Tax” to Invest in Transit and Education
To generate the revenue needed to make improvements to our crumbling infrastructure and ensure that every child in the Commonwealth has access to a quality public education from pre-k to college, we must tax millionaires in Massachusetts at a higher rate.
Support Paid Family and Medical Leave
Right now 1.2 million workers in Massachusetts risk losing their jobs if they need to take time off to recover from childbirth or take care of a sick family member with a serious illness. Supporting the passage of Paid Family and Medical Leave in MA could help right this wrong.
SEIU Local 509 is standing with thousands of concerned teachers and parents in asking that you vote ‘no’ on Question 2 to maintain our public schools and block unaccountable charter initiatives.
Click here to learn more about this ballot initiative and its impact on our communities.
Our Committee on Political Education (COPE) has endorsed the following people for State Representative based on their exemplary record of supporting 85% or more of our legislative priorities.
|Full Title||District||509 Voting Record|
|Rep. Denise Provost||TWENTY-SEVENTH MIDDLESEX DISTRICT||100 %|
|Rep. Gerry Cassidy||NINTH PLYMOUTH DISTRICT||100 %|
|Sen. Hank Naughton||TWELFTH WORCESTER DISTRICT||100 %|
|Rep. Jose Tosado||NINTH HAMPDEN DISTRICT||100 %|
|Rep. Josh Cutler||SIXTH PLYMOUTH DISTRICT||100 %|
|Rep. Liz Malia||ELEVENTH SUFFOLK DISTRICT||100 %|
|Rep. Mary Keefe||FIFTEENTH WORCESTER DISTRICT||100 %|
|Rep. Mike Day||THIRTY-FIRST MIDDLESEX DISTRICT||100 %|
|Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier||THIRD BERKSHIRE DISTRICT||100 %|
|Rep. Cory Atkins||FOURTEENTH MIDDLESEX DISTRICT||96 %|
|Rep. Jared Parisella||SIXTH ESSEX DISTRICT||94 %|
|Sen. Ken Gordon||TWENTY-FIRST MIDDLESEX DISTRICT||92 %|
|Rep. Jim Cantwell||FOURTH PLYMOUTH DISTRICT||91 %|
|Rep. John Rogers||TWELFTH NORFOLK DISTRICT||90 %|
|Rep. Tom Stanley||NINTH MIDDLESEX DISTRICT||90 %|
|Sen. Evandro Carvalho||FIFTH SUFFOLK DISTRICT||88 %|
|Rep. Linda Dean Campbell||FIFTEENTH ESSEX DISTRICT||88 %|
|Rep. Tom Calter||TWELFTH PLYMOUTH DISTRICT||88 %|
|Rep. Rady Mom||EIGHTEENTH MIDDLESEX DISTRICT||86 %|
|Rep. Danielle Gregoire||FOURTH MIDDLESEX DISTRICT||*|
|Aaron Kanzer||SECOND BARNSTABLE DISTRICT||*|
|Brian Murray||TENTH WORCESTER DISTRICT||*|
|Chynah Tyler||SEVENTH SUFFOLK DISTRICT||*|
|Rep. David Viera||THIRD BARNSTABLE DISTRICT||*|
|Dylan Fernandes||BARNSTABLE, DUKES & NANTUCKET DISTRICT||*|
|Estele Bourges||THIRD BRISTOL DISTRICT||*|
|Jack Patrick Lewis||SEVENTH MIDDLESEX DISTRICT||*|
|Jen Migliore||NINTH ESSEX DISTRICT||*|
|Joan Meschino||THIRD PLYMOUTH DISTRICT||*|
|John Mahoney||FIRST PLYMOUTH DISTRICT||*|
|Kara Nyman||FIFTH PLYMOUTH DISTRICT||*|
|Michael Toole||FIRST BRISTOL DISTRICT||*|
|Rep. Moses Dixon||SEVENTEENTH WORCESTER DISTRICT||*|
|Rep. Natalie Higgins||FOURTH WORCESTER DISTRICT||*|
|Paul Jacques||FOURTH BRISTOL DISTRICT||*|
|Rosemary Sandlin||THIRD HAMPDEN DISTRICT||*|
|Sara Hewins||SECOND PLYMOUTH DISTRICT||*|
Local 509 COPE has also endorsed the following people for State Senate based on their exemplary record of supporting 85% or more of our legislative priorities.
|Full Title||District||509 Voting Record|
|Sen. Barbara L’Italien||SECOND ESSEX & MIDDLESEX DISTRICT||100 %|
|Sen. Jamie Eldridge||MIDDLESEX & WORCESTER DISTRICT||100 %|
|Sen. Jason Lewis||FIFTH MIDDLESEX DISTRICT||100 %|
|Sen. John Keenan||NORFOLK & PLYMOUTH DISTRICT||100 %|
|Sen. Stan Rosenberg||HAMPSHIRE, FRANKLIN & WORCESTER DISTRICT||100 %|
|Sen. Mike Moore||SECOND WORCESTER DISTRICT||93 %|
|Sen. Katie O’Connor Ives||CAPE & ISLANDS DISTRICT||92 %|
|Sen. Marc Pacheco||FIRST PLYMOUTH & BRISTOL DISTRICT||91 %|
|Sen. Anne Gobi||WORCESTER, HAMPDEN, HAMPSHIRE & MIDDLESEX DISTRICT||89 %|
|Sen. Eric Lessor||FIRST HAMPDEN & HAMPSHIRE DISTRICT||89 %|
|Sen. Partrick O’Connor||PLYMOUTH & NORFOLK DISTRICT||89 %|
|Adam Hinds||BERKSHIRE, HAMPSHIRE, FRANKLIN & HAMPDEN DISTRICT||*|
|Sen. Don Humanson||SECOND HAMPDEN & HAMPSHIRE DISTRICT||*|
|Julian Cyr||CAPE & ISLANDS DISTRICT||*|
|Sen. Walter Timilty||NORFOLK, BRISTOL & PLYMOUTH DISTRICT||*|
*For open seat races, the Committee On Political Education interviewed candidates to assess if they were committed to 509’s legislative priorities. In some cases, incumbents who did not meet our strict 85% cutoff rating were endorsed based on being a recent champion of some of our highest priority legislation.
Washington, DC – SEIU International President Mary Kay Henry issued the following statement in response to an increase in premium rates from insurance companies for some plans offered through healthcare.gov:
“The fact that insurance companies are increasing healthcare premiums is not news to working people, but it is a warning bell for the next Congress. For six years and more than 60 repeal votes, opponents of the healthcare law have refused to share a serious, comprehensive plan to strengthen and improve it. Today, we are seeing a direct result of their inaction.
“As Americans are getting ready to choose a healthcare plan starting November 1, they should know that higher tax credits will be available for plans with the greatest increases. In fact, more than 8 in 10 people shopping on healthcare.gov last year received tax credits to help pay for their insurance and this year 75 percent of people will still be able to find a plan for less than $75 a month.
“The law is here to stay, but as the nation’s largest union of healthcare workers, we know it must be strengthened. Americans are beyond frustrated by a Congress that has put politics before their health and by healthcare headlines that are their daily reality, whether it’s drug company CEO’s making millions from life-saving cancer drugs, or the lack of transparency when it comes to what a doctor visit or procedure actually costs.
“The nurses, doctors and healthcare workers of SEIU know that Hillary Clinton will be a president who will come to the table with new ideas and new solutions to lower healthcare costs, and improve a law that is covering more Americans than ever before in our history. Every member of Congress should be prepared to do the same.”
El alza a las primas de seguros indica que el próximo Congreso debe tomar en serio el costo de atención médica
WASHINGTON, D.C.— La presidenta del sindicato SEIU internacional, Mary Kay Henry, hizo la siguiente declaración en torno al aumento al costo de las primas por parte de las compañías aseguradoras para algunos planes que se ofrecen a través del portal cuidadodesalud.gov:
“El hecho de que las compañías aseguradoras estén aumentando las primas de atención médica no es noticia para los trabajadores, pero es una advertencia para el próximo Congreso. Durante 6 años y más de 60 votos para revocarla, los opositores a la ley de atención médica se han negado a compartir un plan serio integral para fortalecerla y mejorarla. Hoy en día, estamos viendo el resultado directo de su inacción.
“Mientras que los norteamericanos se preparan para elegir un plan médico a partir del 1º de noviembre, deben saber que habrá un incremento de créditos de impuestos para los planes con los mayores aumentos. De hecho, más de 8 de cada 10 personas que compraron en el portal, cuidadodesalud.gov el año pasado recibieron créditos fiscales para ayudarles a pagar su seguro, y este año, el 75% de las personas todavía podrá encontrar un plan por menos de $75 al mes.
“La ley llegó para quedarse, pero nosotros, como el sindicato más grande de trabajadores del sector de salud, sabemos que debe ser fortalecida. Los norteamericanos están más que frustrados con un Congreso que ha puesto la política por encima de su salud y con titulares de prensa sobre atención médica que son su realidad diaria: ya sea que los ejecutivos de las compañías farmacéuticas están ganando millones con medicinas contra el cáncer para salvar vidas, o bien la falta de transparencia cuando se trata del costo real de una consulta al doctor o de un procedimiento.
“Las enfermeras, los doctores y los trabajadores del sector de salud de SEIU saben que Hillary Clinton será una presidenta que acudirá a la mesa de negociaciones con nuevas ideas y nuevas soluciones para bajar los costos de la atención médica y para mejorar una ley que está cubriendo a más estadounidenses que nunca antes en nuestra historia. Todo miembro del Congreso debería estar preparado para hacer lo mismo.”