Public Health

Improving Our Healthcare Systems 

By fighting for lower costs for consumers, widening coverage, and increasing transparency we will can move toward creating a system of care that meets the needs of all Massachusetts residents.


Fast Facts

  • Working to increase the affordability of healthcare and expand services
  • Appointed to serve on the Massachusetts Health Care Cost Containment WorkingGroup
  • Co-Chair of the Commission on Behavioral Health Promotion and Upstream Prevention (a.k.a. the “Promote Prevent Commission”)
  • Ranking member of the Joint Committee on Public Health
  • Endorsed by the Massachusetts Nurses Association

Proud to be endorsed by

Mass Nurses Association

COVID-19 Pandemic 

  • Seeing the ways that the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed inequality and flaws in our existing healthcare system, Senator O’Connor has worked tirelessly with his fellow senators to pass several pieces of healthcare reform legislation, the most recent being the Patients First Act.
  • The act increases access to telehealth service, ends the unfair practice of surprise billing, expands the healthcare workforce to enhance quality care, and analyzes the impact of COVID-19 on our healthcare system. 
  • As we move forward with the ongoing pandemic, Senator O’Connor continues to turn to accomplished scientists and experts in the field of epidemiology and medicine.

Prioritizing Transparency, Equality, and Access in Healthcare 

  • As a leader in healthcare, Senator O’Connor believes Massachusetts should provide the very best quality care for every resident who needs it.
  • In 2017, he was instrumental in passing An act furthering the Health empowerment and affordability by leveraging transformative healthcare, with the goal of fighting for lower costs for consumers, improved coverage and increased transparency.  
  • In 2019, after hearing from a staff member about how his pharmacist’s cost transparency had saved his family hundreds of dollars on his son’s eczema prescription, Senator O’Connor wrote legislation to bring this type of savings to every family. An Act relative to pharmaceutical price transparency and cost sharing would prohibit “gag orders” put on pharmacists by drug provider organizations, allowing every pharmacist to provide customers with information about prescription drug prices and the clinical efficacy of lower-priced alternative drugs.
  • Senator O’Connor also voted in favor of the Pharmaceutical Access, Cost and Transparency (PACT) Act to further lower prices.

Improving Healthcare Access from Day One 

  • Senator O’Connor is committed to passing legislation which focuses on the challenges around prenatal and maternal health in Massachusetts. In 2018, Senator O’Connor filed, An Act establishing a newborn health and safe sleep pilot program, which would create a program within the Department of Public Health to distribute safe-sleep receptacles, commonly known as “baby boxes”, to new parents and guardians free of charge.
  • The bill sought to promote safe sleeping practices, as well as to bring new mothers into a closer relationship with their healthcare community, improving prenatal and postnatal care. He has also supported bills to study barriers to substance use treatment for women in the perinatal period, to address racial inequities in maternal healthcare in Massachusetts, and to increase options for safe, professional birthing care in the Commonwealth by licensing midwifery.

Mental Health 

  • In 2018, Senator O’Connor helped pass a bill increasing access to medication-assisted treatment (MAT), exploring tools to reduce harm and save lives, expanding education and prevention efforts, and addressing the high rates of co-occurring conditions of substance use disorder (SUD) and mental illness. 
  • Serving on the Promote Prevent Commission, Senator O’Connor takes a hands-on approach to support efforts to subsidize and mainstream mental health care as a form of preventative wellness.
  • Decades of scientific study and practice prove that evidence-based programs, policies, and practices can prevent addiction, substance misuse, depression, anxiety, suicide, violence, risky behaviors, and many other behavioral health issues.
  • The Promote Prevent Commission supports acting early and investing upstream, applying an integrated behavioral health approach, implementing the science of prevention, investing in a continuum of care, and building infrastructure and partnerships to support a working model.

Sponsored Legislation

  • An Act relative to pharmaceutical price transparency and cost sharing 
  • An Act establishing a newborn health and safe sleep pilot program 
  • An Act relative to dental insurance assignment of benefits
  • An Act relative to the impact of natural gas transfer facilities on public health
  • An Act establishing a tax credit for individuals paying for home health care and hospice
  • An Act relative to health care proxies


Visiting the Friendship Home in Norwell. 

Massachusetts must be properly equipped to afford people the right and accessibility to quality and affordable health care. I was proud to support several pieces of legislation empowering medical professionals, disease education, and providing for paid family and medical leave. Families should not have to experience financial strain for unavoidable medical situations.

During the budget process I cosponsored amendments protecting consumers from overpriced medications, requiring the Executive Office of Health and Human Services to recognize and pay for the full costs of Adult Day Health Services, and funding a statewide Alzheimer’s education program. I sponsored legislation to safeguard Alzheimer and Autistic individuals by requiring insurers to cover tracking devices for those who tend to wander or get lost.

One of my priority pieces of legislation from this past session was to make Massachusetts the 11th state to distribute free Baby Boxes to new mothers and families. Baby Boxes are cardboard bassinets lined with a firm, breathable mattress designed to act as a safe sleep space for an infant. Too often are newborns subjected to unsafe sleep conditions, which can lead to injury or even death. By providing Baby Boxes for free, we can reduce the chances of this happening, while simultaneously bringing new mothers into a closer relationship with the healthcare community and providing them a basic education in parenting. New parents would be required to enroll in a brief online course before receiving their Baby Box.

We have seen a growing presence of Lyme disease in our district. Lyme is a devastating illness and we must ensure coverage for those who need it as well as educate our residents about preventative measures. I was proud to secure funding for the Department of Public Health to run a series of television ads to make Massachusetts residents aware of ticks and mosquitoes, the diseases they might carry, and ways to stay safe when outdoors.