It’s a new year and the Maryland General Assembly is set to convene for the 442nd time this Wednesday, January 13 at noon. This session will look and feel a lot different than usual – most of the proceedings will be conducted virtually – but the resulting policy and budgetary actions will impact Marylanders just the same.

Decisions made over the next few months could influence how Marylanders access mental health and substance use services for years to come, so ensuring a sustained and unified voice from the behavioral health community is essential.

2021 Keep the Door Open Agenda

MHAMD has joined with its partners on the Maryland Behavioral Health Coalition in support of an ambitious agenda for the 2021 session. Building on a successful 2020 campaign in which many of the Coalition’s priorities were enacted, we are once again asking legislators to Keep the Door Open for Marylanders with behavioral health needs.

In 2021, the Coalition calls on our elected officials and agency leaders to take the following actions:

  • Preserve prior funding commitments to prevent a reduction in access to mental health and substance use treatment
  • Take steps to expand value-based payment methodologies, implement uniform systemwide measurement-based care standards, and increase provider flexibility to ensure a more patient-centered system of care
  • Address system failures and structural issues that create racial inequities in the delivery of behavioral health care
  • Meet people where they are by maintaining critical telehealth service flexibilities and expanding school behavioral health supports
  • Expand overdose and suicide prevention efforts, increase Maryland’s behavioral health crisis response capacity, provide sufficient access to peer support services and ensure the adequacy of behavioral health provider networks

Your support is critical to our success. Keep an eye out over the coming weeks and months for action alerts and other ways you can get involved. Lawmakers must contend with many competing priorities, so we need you to speak up and make your voice heard. Together we can make a difference.

Budget Update

We received positive news in mid-December when Governor Hogan announced that an expected 3.5% increase in funding for community mental health and substance use disorder services would go into effect on January 1 – a full six months ahead of schedule! This funding is critical as we work to meet an increasing demand for behavioral health services resulting from the coronavirus pandemic.

Thank you to Governor Hogan for supporting Maryland’s community behavioral health providers. And thank YOU for your advocacy. Advocates from around the state have spent the past few years raising awareness about the need to properly resource community mental health and substance use disorder services. We have been unified in our message that a well-funded and functioning community behavioral health system is a critical component of Maryland’s overall health care infrastructure, and Governor Hogan’s action demonstrates that your voice is being heard.

2021 MHAMD Bill List

Lawmakers were encouraged this year to introduce bills as early as possible, and over 700 pieces of legislation have already been filed! MHAMD is tracking it all and we will weigh in on all bills that would impact Marylanders living with a mental health and/or substance use disorder. Our current bill list is attached.

Further information about the material above is available on the
Maryland General Assembly website.

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