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MHAMD Legislative Briefing

Today’s the day! We look forward to welcoming you this afternoon for the MHAMD 2021 Virtual Legislative Briefing. 

Thank you to the hundreds of Marylanders who have registered to attend. If you haven’t already, you have until noon to register. 

We are very excited to host this event. Attendees will hear directly from legislators and policymakers about important behavioral health bills and initiatives covering a range of topics. Issues covered will include funding for mental health and substance use services, health equity, telehealth, overdose and suicide prevention, and crisis response services. 

We will also celebrate our 2021 Champions of Today, honoring individuals whose leadership has had a lasting and profound impact on Maryland’s behavioral health system and the people it serves. This year’s honorees include consumer champion Mike Finkle, child advocate Larry Epp, and Senator Malcolm Augustine. 

Visit the event website for a full agenda and other information. And please take a moment to congratulate our awardees and share memories using our kudos boards! Just click the “+” symbol on the lower right corner of each board to add your comments. Don’t forget to sign your name so the awardee knows it’s from you! 

Children and Youth 

Children and youth with behavioral health needs are often faced with fewer treatment options than adults. Closures in recent years of several residential treatment centers (RTCs) have reduced access even further. More restrictive emergency departments are increasingly being utilized for behavioral health care, and there has been a decrease in the number of approved voluntary placement agreements (VPAs) for families who cannot obtain coverage from their private insurer or pay the out-of-pocket costs for step-down care following an RTC stay. 

Historically, data that could help identify gaps in services and design a system of care that meets the needs of children in every jurisdiction has been unavailable or difficult to attain. That’s why MHAMD and the Children’s Behavioral Health Coalition (CBHC) worked in 2018 to pass legislation requiring annual data reports on the availability of behavioral health services for Maryland children and youth. 

These reports have been helpful in developing policy recommendations and targeting resources to underserved areas. However, they do not include important information on the availability of telehealth services or certain substance use disorder services, nor do they provide a demographic breakdown to allow for an analysis of racial/ethnic disparities in service availability. 

MHAMD and CBHC will testify this week in support of SB 520, which will amend the annual reporting requirement to include these critical data points. 

Hearings This Week 

Here are some of the bill hearings MHAMD is focused on this week. Our complete bill list is attached. 

SB 550/HB 872 | MHAMD supports this bill establishing a matching grant program to support nonprofit organizations serving the behavioral health needs of service members and veterans. 

HB 812 | MHAMD supports this bill requiring development of a program whereby individuals can opt-in to receive periodic mental health check-in calls. 

HB 851 | MHAMD supports this bill prohibiting solitary confinement for incarcerated individuals with serious mental illness. 

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

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