Happy February! Things are moving along steadily in Annapolis. The workload is increasing weekly and the MHAMD public policy team is gearing up for a busy month.
Legislators will consider several bills this week addressing two main focus areas for the Maryland Behavioral Health Coalition.
Racial and ethnic minorities are more likely to experience poor health outcomes as a consequence of their social determinants of health, including access to health care, education, employment, economic stability, housing, public safety, and neighborhood and environmental factors. These outcome disparities include a greater risk of heart disease, stroke, behavioral health disorders, infant mortality, maternal mortality, lower birth weight, obesity, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, cancers, respiratory diseases, and autoimmune diseases.
The legislature will hear testimony this week on legislation aimed at tackling this issue. SB 52 will establish the Maryland Commission on Health Equity to examine, provide advice, and make recommendations regarding the racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic disparities that lead to poor health outcomes.
A well-funded and fully functioning behavioral health crisis response system is important now more than ever. Up to 40% of Marylanders have reported feeling anxious or depressed because of the coronavirus pandemic, and state crisis hotlines are receiving a startling increase in calls from individuals at risk for suicide.
The Behavioral Health Crisis Response Grant Program is a critical component of Maryland’s crisis response system. Established by the General Assembly in 2018 with near unanimous support, the program awards grants to local behavioral health authorities to develop and expand crisis response services in jurisdictions across the state. In just two years it has helped expand mobile crisis teams in Baltimore City, Caroline, Carroll, Dorchester, Harford, Somerset, Talbot, Washington, and Wicomico Counties. The program is also supporting walk-in crisis and behavioral health urgent care services in Baltimore, Carroll, Frederick, and Harford Counties.
The legislature will hear testimony this week on HB 108, which will increase and extend funding for the Behavioral Health Crisis Response Grant Program.
MHAMD 2021 Legislative Briefing
Join MHAMD on February 22 for our 2021 Legislative Briefing! The event is entirely virtual and free to all.
Attendees will hear directly from legislators about important behavioral health bills they are working to advance this year. The event will also feature our annual Champions of Today award ceremony, honoring individuals whose leadership has had a lasting and profound impact on Maryland’s behavioral health system and the people it serves.
Register now and join us on February 22 for what is sure to be an exciting event!
Other Important Bill Hearings
The Coalition priorities listed above aren’t the only important policy issues being addressed in Annapolis. Here are a few more hearings MHAMD is focused on this week. Our complete bill list is attached.
SB 5 MHAMD supports this bill requiring the completion of implicit bias training for purposes of health occupation licensure and certification renewal.
SB 399 MHAMD supports this bill allowing opioid treatment programs to issue cards to qualifying patients to receive reduced MTA transit fare.
HB 496 MHAMD supports this bill redirecting state funding for school resource officers to school-based mental health services and supports.
Further information about the material above is available on the
Maryland General Assembly website.