There shall be a special commission to study access to public assistance and state-sponsored services in rural areas. The commission shall consist of 13 members including: the secretary of health and human services or a designee, who shall serve as the chair; the commissioner of transitional assistance or a designee; the child advocate or a designee; the secretary of elder affairs or a designee; the undersecretary of housing and community development or a designee; the commissioner of early education and care or a designee; a representative from the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers; a representative from Children's Trust Fund; a representative from the Massachusetts Association of Community Action Centers; a representative from the Massachusetts Model of Community Coalitions; a representative of Mass Home Care; a representative from a food bank or food pantry located in the commonwealth, appointed by the governor; and a representative of the Citizens' Housing and Planning Association.
The commission shall examine the barriers faced by low-to moderate-income individuals living in rural areas to obtain public assistance and state-sponsored services including, but not limited to, fuel assistance, child care subsidies, direct cash assistance, emergency housing services and health and human service programs which provide services to children, families, persons with disabilities and elders. The commission's analysis shall include, but not be limited to, the cost of traveling to and from regional offices, the cost of delivering services in rural areas and the success of outreach efforts in rural communities. The commission shall investigate the feasibility of coordinating delivery of services between local and state agencies, expanding the use of technology to increase access to services and eliminating application requirements for in-person visits to state agencies. The commission shall file the results of its study, together with drafts of legislation, if any, necessary to carry its recommendations into effect, with the house and senate committees on ways and means, the joint committee on children, families and persons with disabilities and the joint committee on elder affairs not later than April 1, 2013.