Massachusetts law about children's health care

Laws, cases, and web sources on children's health care law.

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Table of Contents

Massachusetts laws

MGL c. 6A, §§ 16P-16S Yolanda's law: enhancing children's mental health treatment:

  • § 16P Coordination of clinically-appropriate behavioral health services for children; monthly report
  • § 16Q Children's behavioral health advisory council; members; terms; powers and duties; annual report
  • § 16R Geographically-based interagency review team for disabled children who qualify for services from multiple agencies
  • § 16S Coordination of purchase of behavioral health services for children

MGL c. 69, § 8A Michael's Law: Emergency response plan for schools

MGL c. 111, § 24E Access to contraception

MGL c. 111, § 110A Tests of newborn children for treatable disorders or diseases
Mandated testing unless parent(s) object on the grounds that such test conflicts with their religious tenets.

MGL c. 111, § 222 Concussion and sports participation

MGL c. 112, § 12E Access to drug treatment

MGL c. 112, § 12F Emergency treatment of minors

Any minor may give consent to his medical ... care ... if (i) he is married ... or (ii) he is the parent of a child ... or (iii) he is a member of any of the armed forces; or (iv) she is pregnant or believes herself to be pregnant; or (v) he is living separate ... from his parent or legal guardian, and is managing his own financial affairs; or (vi) he reasonably believes himself to be suffering from .. any disease defined as dangerous to the public health

MGL c. 112, § 12R Consent to abortion for women less than 16 years old

MGL c. 112, § 275 Bans gay or gender identity conversion therapy for children under 18

MGL c. 118E, § 81 Medicaid benefits for children and adolescents under the age of 19 for diagnosis and treatment of mental, behavioral, emotional or substance use disorders

MGL c. 123, § 10 Voluntary admissions; consultation with attorney; discharge; outpatients; veterans

Massachusetts regulations

110 CMR 7 Services

  • 110 CMR 7.121 - 7.127 Covers Massachusetts children and family health services, including dental care

Selected cases

Comm. v. Twitchell, 416 Mass. 114 (1993)
The parents of a seriously ill 2.5 year old child had a common law duty to seek medical treatment for their child, the violation of which, if their conduct was wanton or reckless, could support a conviction of involuntary manslaughter in the child's death, and the spiritual healing provisions of G. L. c. 273, § 1, a statute concerning child support and care, and not apply to foreclose the parents' prosecution for involuntary manslaughter.

Custody of a Minor, 375 Mass. 733 (1978)
Concluding that the child's "right to live" and the "state's duty to enforce that right" outweighed the family's interests in privacy and autonomy, the judge found the child in need of care and protection, and ordered the child committed to the legal custody of the DPW for the purpose of receiving chemotherapy. Physical custody remained with the parents so long as they obeyed the order of the court.

[D]enial of the recommended medical treatment means certain death for the minor, whereas continuation of such treatment offers him substantial hope for life.

Felder v. Children's Hospital Corp., 97 Mass.App.Ct. 620 (2020)
Duty owed to parents. A child's health care providers have a duty to obtain informed consent for treatment of the patient, which involves discussing treatment decisions with parents or guardians. But a "psychiatrist treating a minor child does not have an obligation also to treat the child's parents, or other family.  Nor does a psychiatrist owe a general duty to the parents to 'facilitate' the child's relationship with them, or to provide the parents 'reasonable aftercare.'"

Rosie D. v. Romney, 410 F.Supp. 2d 18 (2006) 
Massachusetts "violated ...provisions of the Medicaid Act by failing to offer necessary medical services to children in this Commonwealth who suffer from serious emotional disturbances."

Web sources

Children with special health care needs,
Includes links to sources of information and assistance in a wide variety of areas of children's health.

Children's behavioral health initiative (CBHI), Children's Law Center.
An effort by MassHealth to provide more community-based behavioral health or mental health services to youth under the age of 21 with MassHealth and who meet certain criteria. Sometimes these services are also called "Rosie D." services. Explains eligibility and more.

Children’s Medical Security Plan, MassHealth.
Provides coverage for primary and preventive medical and dental service to certain uninsured children.

Concussion information, MIAA.
Includes information on the concussion law, concussion policies, and links to helpful resources.

Consent to medical treatment by minors in Massachusetts, Juvenile Rights Advocacy Project.
Outlines the consent laws for minors seeking medical treatment under a variety of circumstances.

In Massachusetts, Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) are combined into one program called MassHealth.

Parents' how-to guide on children's mental health services in Massachusetts, 3d ed., 2011, Boston Bar Association.
Includes steps for getting help, paying for services, services in your child's school, and more.

Quick reference on CBHI mental health services for youth, Children's Law Center, 2013.
Massachusetts must provide "behavioral health screening, diagnostic evaluation, and an array of new behavioral health services to children up to age 21 who have MassHealth." Explains services available and how to access them.

Responding to scenes involving minors refusing treatment or transport, Office of Emergency Medical Services (1/18/05).
Provides guidance to emergency medical personnel on how to respond to minors refusing treatment in accordance with Mass. law.

Students with comfort care/do not resuscitate orders, Mass. Dept. of Education, November 30, 2004.
In response to requests from several Massachusetts school districts, the following guidelines for the care of students with Comfort Care/Do Not Resuscitate Orders were developed in consultation with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) Office of Emergency Medicine and the MDPH Legal Office. 

Print sources

Handbook on the legal rights of minors, Mental Health Legal Advisors Committee, 2001.

Health for teens in care: a judge's guide, by Karen Aileen Howze, ABA, 2002.

Massachusetts health and hospital law manual, 3rd ed., MCLE, loose-leaf, 2022. Chapter 11, Access to medical records.
Generally, parents or guardians of minors have the right to the same access to their child or ward's medical records as their own.

Power of court or other public agency to order medical treatment for child over parental objections not based on religious grounds, 97 A.L.R.3d 421.

Practitioner's guide to state intervention in the family, MCLE, 2023.

Protecting children in a changing world: advocacy strategies for children's rights, by Susan F. Cole, MCLE, 2003.

What lawyers need to know about vaccination mandates in the workplace and schools, MCLE, section 2, 2020.

Contact   for Massachusetts law about children's health care

Last updated: April 4, 2024

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