Given a recent national report documenting widening disparities in access to in-network behavioral health services, MHAMD and the Maryland Behavioral Health Coalition are once again calling on Maryland legislators to take action that will guarantee consumer payment protections for out-of-network care and ensure the appropriate enforcement of federal and state parity laws.
A new study conducted by Milliman, Inc. covering 37 million commercially-insured individuals across the country reflects dramatically worsened access to behavioral health care since a similar study was published two years ago. The Maryland data is particularly troubling:
- Marylanders were 10 times more likely to go out-of-network for behavioral health visits compared to primary care. This rate is twice the national average and 4th worst in the nation.
- Out-of-network inpatient behavioral health use rose from 5.5 times to 9.3 times more likely than for medical/surgical services between 2013 and 2017. This rate is also nearly twice the national average.
- Reimbursement rates for Maryland psychiatrists in 2017 was 18% less than other physicians for the same billing codes.
Accordingly, the Behavioral Health Coalition has prioritized the following legislation that increases consumer protections and requires greater accountability for commercial health insurers:
SB 484 prevents consumers from being billed extra when forced to go out-of-network for covered mental health and substance use treatment. It requires insurers to cover non-network behavioral health services “at no greater cost” to consumers than the in-network cost.
- Submit an annual parity compliance report to the Maryland Insurance Administration
- Pay penalties for parity violations and for filing incomplete reports
- Make their compliance report available to plan members so they can enforce their parity rights
- Inform consumers of their parity rights in benefit denial letters
A bill hearing for SB 334 is scheduled on February 19 in the Senate Finance Committee.
Thursday, February 27 at Noon
The 2020 Behavioral Health Coalition Rally in Annapolis is just around the corner! Join MHAMD and the Coalition on February 27 as we rally in support of the full 2020 Keep the Door Open Legislative Agenda.
We need your voice! We are louder and more effective when we join together to demand improved services for our friends and family members living with a mental health or substance use disorder. We’ve had over 500 people attend these rallies in recent years. Please join us and help us get to 1,000 this year!
Get your friends to come too! Call them, share this email widely or help us promote the rally on social media. And be sure to follow and report content from the Keep the Door Open Twitter and Facebook accounts.
Upcoming Hearings, Briefings and Other Activities
Key procedural deadlines are rapidly approaching and bill introductions are increasing steadily. Here are a few of the legislative activities MHAMD is focused on this week.
- SB 324 MHAMD supports this bill to increase mental health first aid training for veterans and their families [Tuesday, February 4 – 1:00 p.m. – Senate Finance Committee]
- HB 277 MHAMD supports this bill requiring guidelines and training to ensure a trauma-informed approach in Maryland schools [Wednesday, February 5 – 1:00 p.m. – House Ways and Means Committee]
HB 286 MHAMD supports this bill requiring that stakeholders convened by the Maternal Mortality Review Program reflect the racial and ethnic diversity of women most impacted by maternal deaths in the state [Wednesday, February 5- 1:00 p.m. – House Health and Government Operations Committee]
Further information about the material above is available on the
Maryland General Assembly website.