When passing legislation extending some pandemic-era emergency protections for tenants, restaurants, and government agencies, the House and Senate compromised by not compromising: they only approved issues on which the two branches were already in agreement.
In a rush to renew the emergency policies that expired on Tuesday, the legislature left several proposals for pandemic-era health care adopted by the Senate on the table, including questions regarding the expansion of the functions of the Senate. medical assistants, parity for behavioral telehealth and cost protection for COVID-19 treatment.
The House plans to deal with health care issues outside of the emergency bill with joint committee hearings scheduled for this fall and potential legislative action later. The Senate would prefer to resolve them now while they are still technically at the negotiating table with the House.
The Senate has Governor Baker’s backing on a measure to prevent medical providers from billing patients beyond their health insurance coverage for COVID-19 treatment.
Another issue lawmakers allowed to expire after the state of emergency ended was a 15% cap on the fees that third-party delivery services can charge restaurants for delivering their food. The House had included the price cap in its version of the bill, while the Senate had left it out. The cap did not appear in the final language signed by Baker on Wednesday morning, angering Senate sponsor Diana DiZoglio (D-Methuen), who said struggling restaurants were being operated and subject to surcharges of 30 or 40 for cent for deliveries before the installation of the cap. .
“It’s a price hike. It’s taking advantage of a struggling small business owner that we should be helping during this time,” DiZoglio said.
Since the State House negotiations are under wraps, neither side will say whether they plan to move forward with further policy extensions now, later, or not at all.