Wednesday, February 23, 2011

HEALTH CARE REFORM- What’s it all about?

You’ll be hearing more and more about this in the coming months.  Last week the Governor filed a Health Care bill that focuses on reforming the way health providers are paid and the structure under which they are paid. The aim of the bill is to reduce health care costs, while improving care for patients.  There is a lot of talk about Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs), Medical Homes and Global Payments. And there is a lot of concern about what will happen to the way health and mental health services are provided.  Social Workers in particular have raised concerns about their roles in the health care delivery systems.  Private practitioners wonder if social work and mental health services will be included, if private practitioners will be able to maintain their practices, if they want to be part of the ACOs or even how to explore  the pros and cons of that possibility.

At this point, there are more questions about the new system than answers. But you can be sure that social workers’ interests will be well represented in all the discussions and planning.  In fact, NASW has been meeting with the Secretary of Health and Human Services, along with other Mental Health professionals, over the last several months, to make sure that mental health is an integral part of the reform. And indeed, the Governor’s proposal clearly states that mental health shall be an integral part of the new system.  I was at a meeting last week with Secretary Bigby where she told NASW and our mental health colleagues that planning for the transformation of the system will include the convening of a Behavioral Health Task Force that will recommend and set guidelines for the inclusion of behavioral health in any new delivery structure.

As the transformation proceeds, be assured that the social work voice, values and place will be well represented in any discussions and planning.  And please do let me know your thoughts about the evolving process.  We are going to need your best thinking and advocacy  input.  I am so grateful to our staff and our members for their thoughtful input.

Carol J. Trust

Monday, February 14, 2011

Social Work Safety and Loan Forgiveness Top NASW-MA Chapter's list.

Each legislative session the Chapter goes through a major process of identifying bills that it wishes to file and/or support.  The process involves being in touch with our many Shared Interest Groups (SIGS), Commissions, Task Forces, the Board of Directors and the general membership.  Beyond our own membership, we solicit ideas from allied organizations and groups to make sure that we are considering all the issues that affect our members and the clients and communities we serve.  This year the Chapter filed two bills that focus specifically on the social work profession and is giving priority support to 14 other bills that our coalition and SIG partners are putting forth. 

The two professional bills that directly impact social workers and the Social Work profession are: Loan Forgiveness and Maximizing Safety in the Workplace. (You can see the specifics of these two bills and the other bills on our priority list by clicking  

Loan Forgiveness is essential for the profession to continue to recruit and retain talented young people.  As our members age, (the average age in Massachusetts is 52) and retire we will be in big trouble if we cannot make ourselves attractive to energetic and passionate graduates or even to younger folks who are exploring career options.

At the same time, we need to make sure that our workplaces are safe, so that staff will feel supported, protected and encouraged to work in all areas of the profession.

These topics are the Chapter's top legislative priorities.  If you would like to be involved in the Chapter’s efforts to make these bills become law, please me know.  You will be put in touch with our Legislative staff who will be spending a good deal of their time at the State House and in the districts organizing for success.

Carol J. Trust

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


I recently returned from a trip to Buenos Aires, which  is most popularly known for its Tango dancers, and great steaks.  What I didn’t know about was its unusual and perhaps controversial system for recycling.  Here is what I saw and was verified by a number of my Argentinian contacts.

Every late afternoon into the evening, thousands of very casually dressed people, wheel their shopping carts and trolley down the streets of B.A. sorting through the trash.  There are three basic groups: the bottle/glass collectors; the metal collectors and the paper collectors (called cartones.)  The cartones  open up plastic trash bags looking for all sorts of paper products but mostly fold up the large cardboard cartons that small businesses leave out on the side walk.

Each group (and in some cases a group is made up of family members from three generations) has its own streets and blocks that  it has claimed, so the territorial boundaries have been set and are handed down to the next generation.

The cartones are a separate working class group.  They live in the shanty towns outside the city and come into town via special trains just for them to accommodate their trolleys and shopping carts. The trains do not stop at the regular train platforms where folks are coming into town for their office and retail shop jobs.  These are windowless trains brought out of retirement, reserved just for the cartones.

And what was my response?  Compassion? Sympathy? Outrage? At first, yes.  And then I thought, “how amazing!”  The cartones have built an industry that creates jobs and at the same time addresses environmental concerns.  How strange.  Am I outraged at a government that allows this or am I impressed at the resourcefulness of a group of people that had no jobs before. Outrage or resourcefulness?  Outrage or resourceful? What do you think?

Carol J. Trust