SECTION 1. Section 9 of chapter 13 of the General Laws, as appearing in the 2018 Official Edition, is hereby amended by inserting after the word “workers”, in line 8, the following words:- , the board of registration of peer specialists,
SECTION 2. Said chapter 13 of the General Laws is hereby further amended by adding the following section:-
Section 110. (a) There shall be, within the department of public health, a board of registration of peer specialists which shall consist of 11 members to be appointed by the governor, 1 of whom shall be the commissioner of public health or a designee, 1 of whom shall be the commissioner of mental health or a designee; 1 of whom shall have expertise in training peer specialists, 1 of whom shall be employed as a peer specialist with lived experience with substance use disorder, 1 of whom shall be a peer specialist with lived experience with mental illness, 1 of whom shall be a family member to an individual with a substance use disorder, 1 of whom shall be a family member to an individual with or mental illness, 1 of whom shall represent communities that have been disproportionately impacted by historical over-policing relative to drug enforcement, 1 of whom shall represent a health plan, 1 of whom shall be a licensed physician or nurse specializing in addiction, and 1 of whom shall be a licensed physician or nurse specializing in psychiatry.
Members of the board shall be residents of the commonwealth.
(b) Each member of the board shall serve for a term of 3 years. Upon the expiration of a term of office, a member shall continue to serve until a successor has been appointed. A member shall not serve for more than 2 consecutive terms; provided, however, that a person who is chosen to fill a vacancy in an unexpired term of a prior board member may serve for 2 consecutive terms in addition to the remainder of that unexpired term.
(c) A member may be removed by the governor for neglect of duty, misconduct or malfeasance or misfeasance in office.
(d) The board shall, at its first meeting and annually thereafter, organize by electing from its membership a chair, a vice-chair and a secretary. Those officers shall serve until their successors are elected.
(e) The board shall meet at least four times annually and may hold additional meetings at the call of the chair or at such times as may be determined by the board. Board members shall serve without compensation but shall be reimbursed for actual and reasonable expenses incurred in the performance of their duties.
SECTION 3. Section 1 of chapter 112 of the General Laws, as appearing in the 2018 Official Edition, is hereby amended by inserting after the word “dentistry”, in line 12, the following words:- , the board of registration of peer specialists
SECTION 4. Said chapter 112 is hereby further amended by adding the following 4 sections:-
Section 276. (a) The following words as used in sections 276 to 279, inclusive, unless the context otherwise requires, shall have the following meanings:--
“Board”, the board of registration of peer specialists, established under section 110 of chapter 13.
“Peer Specialist”, an individual who is authorized to practice by the board under this chapter and who uses shared understanding, respect and mutual empowerment to help others become and stay engaged in the process of recovery from a mental illness or substance use disorder.
“Lived experience”, the experience of having recovered from a mental illness or substance use disorder.
(b) The board shall have the following powers and duties:
(1) to promulgate regulations and adopt such rules as are necessary to regulate peer specialists;
(2) to receive, review, approve or disapprove initial applications, renewals and reinstatement requests and to issue those authorizations to practice;
(3) to establish administrative procedures for processing applications submitted under clause (2) and to hire or appoint such agents as are appropriate for processing applications;
(4) to retain records of its actions and proceedings in accordance with public records laws;
(5) to establish specifications for the authorized practice of peer specialist support; provided, that the specifications shall require individuals to have lived experience and demonstrate at least 2 years of sustained recovery; provided further, that requirements may be waived for individuals who were credentialed by the Massachusetts Board of Substance Abuse Counselor Certification or the Massachusetts Certified Peer Specialist Training Program before the establishment of the board.
(6) to define by regulation the appropriate standards for education, core competencies, and experience necessary to qualify as an authorized peer specialist, including, but not limited to, continuing professional education requirements; provided, that the board shall consider any standards contained within relevant training programs established by the departments of public health and mental health;
(7) to establish an ethical code of conduct for peer specialists authorized to practice by the board; provided, that the board shall consider any codes of conduct for relevant training programs established by the departments of public health and mental health;
(8) to establish standards of supervision for students or persons in training to become a peer specialist; provided, that the board shall consider standards contained within relevant training programs established by the departments of public health and mental health;
(9) to fine, censure, revoke, suspend or deny a peer specialist authorization to practice, place on probation, reprimand or otherwise discipline a peer specialist for violations of the code of ethics or the rules of the board.
(10) to summarily suspend a peer specialist who poses an imminent danger to the public; provided, that the peer specialist shall be afforded a hearing within 7 business days to determine whether the summary action is warranted; and
(11) to perform other functions and duties as may be required to carry out this section.
Section 277. An application to be a peer specialist, under section 276, shall be made on forms approved by the board, signed under the penalties of perjury by the person certifying the information contained therein and accompanied by the required fee. The fee shall be determined by the secretary of administration and finance under section 3B of chapter 7. A peer specialist applicant shall furnish satisfactory proof that the applicant is at least 18 years of age and has met all the education, training and experience requirements and qualifications as established by the board.
The board, in consultation with the departments of public health and mental health, shall determine the renewal cycle and renewal period for peer specialists. A peer specialist authorized to practice under this chapter shall apply to the board for a renewal not later than the expiration date, as determined by the board, unless earlier revoked, suspended or canceled as a result of a disciplinary proceeding. As a condition for renewal under this section, the board may require satisfactory proof that the peer specialist has successfully completed the required number of hours of continuing education in courses or programs approved by the board or has complied with such other requirements or equivalent requirements as approved by the board. Upon satisfactory compliance with the requirements and successful completion of the continuing education requirements, the board shall issue a renewal. The board may provide for the late renewal that has lapsed and may require payment of a late fee. Each renewal application submitted to the board shall be accompanied by a fee as determined by the secretary of administration and finance under section 3B of chapter 7.
The board may authorize a peer specialist to practice by reciprocity. The board shall promulgate rules and regulations as may be necessary to implement this section.
Section 278. (a) The title “peer specialist” shall only be used by individuals who have met the requirements and qualifications and hold a valid, current authorization issued by the board. No person may act as a peer specialist for a fee unless such person holds a valid, current authorization issued by the board. The use by any person not so authorized of any words, letters, abbreviations or insignia indicating or implying a person is an authorized peer specialist shall be a violation of this section for which the board may issue a cease and desist order and seek additional appropriate legal remedies.
(b) A person who violates subsection (a) shall be liable for a fine as determined by the Board.
(c) No person filing a complaint alleging a violation of law or of the regulations of the board, reporting information pursuant to such laws or regulations or assisting the board at its request in any manner in discharging its duties and functions shall be liable in any cause of action arising out of the board's receipt of such information or assistance, if the person making the complaint, or reporting or providing such information or assistance, does so in good faith and without malice.
Section 279. All application fees and civil administrative penalties and fines collected under sections 276 to this section, inclusive, shall be deposited into the Quality in Health Professions Trust Fund established in section 35X of chapter 10.
SECTION 152. No person shall be found to have violated section 278 of chapter 112 of the General Laws until 6 months after the board of registration of peer specialists first issues an authorization to practice under said chapter 112.
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