MHAMD

News and Updates

At MHAMD, we strive to bring you the most up-to-date information available related to mental health and substance use disorder policy in Maryland and beyond. Here you will find our weekly updates from Annapolis when the legislature is in session, recent policy blog posts, links to recent stories and articles and much more! You can also stay current on all the legislation MHAMD is focused on in Annapolis here. Be sure to join the Advocacy Network to receive news and updates about mental health policy via email.


FINAL UPDATE FOR THE 2019 LEGISLATIVE SESSION

The 439th legislative session of the Maryland General Assembly drew to a close at midnight on April 8. The first year in a new term, the 2019 session began with the seating of 17 freshman senators, 44 new delegates and the second inauguration of Larry Hogan as Governor of Maryland. Coming off a resoundingly successful 2018 campaign, MHAMD and the Maryland Behavioral Health Coalition rallied once again around an ambitious agenda aimed at increasing access to mental health and substance use disorder services. Additionally, the MHAMD public policy team prevented a disruption in service delivery for 300,000 individuals who depend on Maryland’s public behavioral health system and advocated successfully to implement progressive reforms for Marylanders of all ages with behavioral health needs.  You can read our 2019 Legislative Wrap Up here and see the final list of the legislation we were following here.


MHAMD Legislative Update for April 1, 2019

This is the last full week of the 2019 legislative session! MHAMD and the Maryland Behavioral Health Coalition have been working since January to expand access to critical mental health and substance use disorder services. After three months of work, many of our legislative priorities are either over the finish line or well-positioned for the final push.

With the Maryland General Assembly set to adjourn next Monday, April 8, at midnight, here is where things stand for the 2019 Keep the Door Open agenda.

Fully Fund Prior “Keep the Door Open” Budget Commitments

The Maryland General Assembly gave final approval last week to the fiscal year 2020 budget, including full funding for Keep the Door Open increases secured in prior years.

Additionally, the legislature approved a Behavioral Health Coalition amendment to a bill that increases Maryland’s minimum wage over a period of years. As passed, SB 280 / HB 166 increases behavioral health funding by nearly 22 percent over the next six years to offset costs that will be incurred when implementing the minimum wage. The bill was vetoed by Governor Hogan, but the veto was quickly overridden by the legislature.

Increase School Behavioral Health Supports

Legislation has been introduced to implement some of the recommendations from the (Kirwan) Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education. Among its many provisions, SB 1030 / HB 1413 includes several years of dedicated funding for school mental health coordinators. It also provides funding for certain schools to enhance access to behavioral health resources and increase trauma-informed professional development for school staff. The bills have not moved out of their respective committees, but the legislation was tied to budget negotiations, so we expect some movement in the coming week.

Promote Medication Assisted Treatment for Substance Use Disorders

Both the House and Senate have passed identical legislation (SB 846 / HB 116) requiring that individuals entering local correctional facilities be assessed for opioid use disorder and that medication assisted treatment be available as appropriate. As it stands, the policy will be implemented in four specific counties this year with a gradual rollout to the remaining jurisdictions by 2023. The bills await final approval in their opposite chambers.

Divert Behavioral Health Patients from Emergency Rooms and General Hospitals

HB 427 has passed unanimously in both the House and Senate, and now awaits the governor’s signature. The bill makes slight modifications to a Baltimore City outpatient civil commitment pilot program in hopes of gradually increasing program enrollment.

HB 599 has passed unanimously in both the House and Senate, and now awaits the governor’s signature. The bill requires commercial insurance carriers to use American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) criteria when making medical necessity determinations for substance use treatment.

SB 761 / HB 837 was introduced to prevent Marylanders with commercial insurance from being billed extra when forced to go out-of-network for behavioral health care. The bill has not been acted upon in the House or Senate.

Note: There will be no MHAMD Weekly Legislative Update next Monday. Instead, look for the MHAMD wrap-up on Tuesday for a detailed account of all final budgetary and policy outcomes from the 2019 legislative session.


MHAMD Legislative Update for March 25, 2019

THANK YOU … AGAIN!!!
Legislature Votes to Increase Funding for Community Behavioral Health Services!

Last week we thanked you for helping to defeat legislation that threatened to disrupt treatment for Marylanders with mental health and substance use disorders. Your voices were a key to that victory, and, well, you did it again!!

Hundreds of you responded to an Action Alert calling on your senators and delegates to support increased funding for community behavioral health services in legislation to raise Maryland’s minimum wage. As we reported, the increased funding is necessary to prevent a reduction or elimination of essential mental health and substance use treatment by offsetting costs incurred when implementing the minimum wage.

Thanks to your support, the legislature passed a version of the bill that increases behavioral health funding by nearly 22 percent over the six year minimum wage implementation period!

Thank you so much to everyone who took the time to speak up. This is another example of how strong we are when we stand together and speak with one voice. We could not have done it without you

Governor’s Commission to Study Mental and Behavioral Health

As you may recall, we reported back in January on an Executive Order signed by Governor Hogan establishing the Commission to Study Mental and Behavioral Health in Maryland. The group met for the first time last week for a meeting that was primarily organizational in nature. The Commission is chaired by Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford and includes representatives from each branch of state government, a variety of state departments, and several members of the public.

Commission subcommittees have been established to address specific topics, including financing and funding, youth and families, crisis services, and criminal justice. Public comments and testimony will be taken at a series of regional meetings in Western, Eastern, Southern and Central Maryland. The group is expected to issue an interim report in July and a final report in December.

More information about the Commission is available here.

Other Status Updates

With just two weeks left before the Maryland General Assembly adjourns at midnight on April 8, a majority of the legislative and budgetary activity is in the rearview mirror. As session winds down, committee work will decrease and floor sessions will last longer as the full Senate and House of Delegates debate bills for the final time before passing or rejecting the measures. Here is the current status of some of the issues we’ve supported this session.

  • SB 178 / HB 570 provides for an increased use of telehealth in the delivery of behavioral health services. Each of these bills passed unanimously in their respective chambers.
  • SB 164 / HB 155 increases state funding allowances for the construction, acquisition, or renovation of mental health and substance use treatment facilities. Each of these bills passed unanimously in their respective chambers.
  • HB 829 removes barriers that prevent certain providers from serving on commercial insurer provider panels. The bill passed the House unanimously and awaits a hearing in the Senate Finance Committee.
  • SB 521 requires the development of a comprehensive action plan to increase access to and availability of professional veteran health services to prevent veteran suicides. The bill passed the Senate unanimously and awaits a vote in the House Health and Government Operations Committee.

MHAMD Legislative Update for March 18, 2019

There are just three weeks left in the 2019 legislative session! A lot has happened over the past few months, but there is more work to be done. Here is an update on some of the issues MHAMD and the Maryland Behavioral Health Coalition have been working on in Annapolis.

THANK YOU!!!

Threats to Public Behavioral Health System DEFEATED!

Several weeks ago, we asked for your help to defeat legislation that threatened to disrupt treatment for Marylanders with mental health and substance use disorders, and the response was fantastic! You sent nearly 1,700 emails to almost 180 different state representatives, including nearly 400 to Governor Hogan!

Thanks to your support, I am happy to announce that SB 482 and HB 846 have been withdrawn from consideration! These bills would have shifted responsibility for the delivery of public behavioral health services to multiple for-profit managed care organizations. The move would have jeopardized treatment for Marylanders not in Medicaid, threatened care coordination for high-risk populations, and diverted provider resources away from treatment.

Thank you so much to everyone who took the time to fight this! You spoke up, and your voice was heard. We could not have done it without you.

News Action Alert: Support Increased Funding for Community Behavioral Health Services!

The Maryland Senate and House of Delegates have each passed versions of a minimum wage bill that include increased funding for community behavioral health services.

This funding is critically important. It will prevent a reduction or elimination of essential mental health and substance use treatment by offsetting costs that will be incurred when implementing the minimum wage.

But the fight isn’t over yet! Differences between the two bills must be reconciled, and a variety of factors are threatening the increased funding.

We need your help! If legislators don’t hear from you, there is a significant danger that this behavioral health funding may be stripped from the final bill!

Visit our Action Center to learn more and send a letter directly to your state representatives. The letter is editable so you can send it as-is or personalize your request.

After you complete the Action Alert, please forward this link to all your friends so they can make their voice heard too!

Thanks so much for your support!

Other Updates

The issues identified above aren’t the only critical policy issues being addressed in Annapolis. Here are a couple more updates on MHAMD priority bills.

  • HB 116  / SB 846 require that individuals entering state and local correctional facilities be assessed for opioid use disorder and that medication assisted treatment be available as appropriate. Positive negotiations between stakeholders, legislative leadership and the governor’s office have resulted in consensus amendments related to implementation timing and funding, and the bill was voted favorably out of committee this past weekend.
  • HB 427 / SB 403 were introduced to expand an outpatient civil commitment pilot program operating in Baltimore City that is targeting a comprehensive range of community-based services to hard-to-engage individuals with serious mental illness. Instead of moving to expand the program too widely at this time, the bill was amended to modify the pilot in an effort to gradually increase program enrollment. The amended bill passed the House unanimously and awaits a vote in the Senate.

MHAMD Legislative Update for March 11, 2019

With just four weeks left until the Maryland General Assembly adjourns at midnight on April 8, MHAMD and the Maryland Behavioral Health Coalition are working overtime to secure positive outcomes for the issues identified in the Coalition’s 2019 legislative platform.

Time is short, but we’ve got momentum on our side!

Keep the Door Open Updates

Increase School Behavioral Health Supports to Improve Student Outcomes
After waiting nearly all session, legislation was just introduced last week to begin implementing recommendations from the (Kirwan) Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education. The Maryland Children’s Behavioral Health Coalition (CBHC) worked hard last year to inform the Commission, and nearly every one of its recommendations for expanding school behavioral health resources was adopted and included in an interim report issued earlier this year.

The Blueprint for Maryland’s Future does not include all of the CBHC recommendations, but it does provide a good down payment for increased coordination of school mental health services. MHAMD and its Coalition partners are supporting this legislation as a bridge to full implementation of the Kirwan recommendations, and we will continue to work with the Commission when they resume their efforts following session.

Fully Fund Prior “Keep the Door Open” Budget Commitments
SB 280 / HB 166 would increase Maryland’s minimum wage over several years. In an effort to protect recent funding increases for community mental health and substance use services, the Behavioral Health Coalition has responded to the legislation by requesting an amendment to increase reimbursement rates for behavioral health providers to help offset the costs that would be incurred when implementing the minimum wage increase.

The full House of Delegates has passed the bill with an amendment that addresses the Coalition’s concerns. The Senate Finance Committee passed a version of the bill on Friday that also increases behavioral health funding, but at a different rate. The full Senate will consider the measure over the next few days, then any differences between the chambers will need to be resolved in the coming weeks.

Promote Medication Assisted Treatment and Other Substance Use Treatment Options
SB 846 / HB 116 require that individuals entering state and local correctional facilities be assessed for opioid use disorder and that medication assisted treatment be available as appropriate. These bills have been heard in both the House and the Senate and await votes in their respective committees.

Divert Behavioral Health Patients from Emergency Rooms and General Hospitals
SB 403 / HB 427 were introduced to expand an outpatient civil commitment pilot program operating in Baltimore City that is targeting a comprehensive range of community-based services to hard-to-engage individuals with serious mental illness. The bills have been heard in both the House and the Senate, and while there is support for the pilot, legislators are hesitant to expand the program too widely at this time. Accordingly, the House Health and Government Operations Committee passed the bill with amendments that just make slight modifications to the pilot in an effort to gradually increase program enrollment.

HB 599 / SB 631 would increase compliance with federal behavioral health insurance parity laws by requiring commercial health insurers to submit annual compliance reports to the Maryland Insurance Administration. These bills have been heard in both the House and the Senate and await votes in their respective committees.

HB 837 / SB 761 prohibit consumers with commercial insurance from being billed extra when forced to go out-of-network for behavioral health treatment. The House Health and Government Operations Committee has received testimony on HB 837. The Senate Finance Committee has scheduled a hearing on SB 761 this Wednesday.

Other Hearings and Briefings

The Coalition priorities listed above aren’t the only critical policy issues being addressed in Annapolis. Here are a few more of the activities the MHAMD public policy team is focused on this week.

  • HB 832 / SB 699 MHAMD supports this bill providing that no eligible individual shall be denied home- and community-based services provided in the Maryland Medicaid program. [Monday, March 11 – 2:00 p.m. – House Health and Government Operations Committee and Wednesday, March 13 – 1:00 p.m. – Senate Finance Committee] 
  • SB 815 / HB 1210 MHAMD supports this bill establishing a centralized Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) technical assistance center to support expansion of CIT across Maryland. [Tuesday, March 12 – 9:30 a.m. – Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee and Wednesday, March 13 – 1:00 p.m. – House Judiciary Committee]
  • HB 745  MHAMD supports this bill requiring each correctional facility to have a written policy related to the medical care of pregnant and postpartum inmates placed in restrictive housing. [Tuesday, March 12 – 1:00 p.m. – House Judiciary Committee]

MHAMD Legislative Update for March 4, 2019

ACTION ALERT! OPPOSE SB 482 / HB 846

Last week we asked for your help to defeat legislation that threatens to disrupt treatment for Marylanders with mental health and substance use disorders, and the response has been fantastic! So far you have sent nearly 1,500 emails to 170 different state representatives, including over 340 to Governor Hogan!

Let’s keep it up! SB 482 / HB 846 would shift responsibility for the delivery of public behavioral health services to multiple for-profit managed care organizations. The move would jeopardize treatment for Marylanders who are not in Medicaid, threaten care coordination for high-risk populations, and divert provider resources away from treatment.

Other states that have moved in this direction have seen patients struggling to get their medications, being discharged prematurely from crisis facilities and hospitals and getting less individualized care.

We need your help to defeat this legislation! The House Health and Government Operations Committee will consider HB 846 on Wednesday. If you haven’t already, please visit our Action Center to learn more and send a letter directly to the Governor and your state representatives. The letter is editable so you can send it as-is or personalize your request.

After you complete the Action Alert, please forward this link to all your friends so they can make their voice heard too! Thanks so much for your support!

Keep the Door Open Update

There is a lot of activity around the Maryland Behavioral Health Coalition’s 2019 Legislative Agenda! All of our priority items have had hearings in at least one chamber, and most have already been heard by committees in both the House and the Senate. Here is where things stand on a few of our key issues:

Minimum Wage
In its effort to protect recent funding increases for community mental health and substance use services, the Coalition has responded to legislation raising Maryland’s minimum wage by requesting an amendment to increase reimbursement rates for behavioral health providers accordingly. Such language is needed to offset costs that would be incurred when implementing the minimum wage increase. You can learn more about the Coalition’s position here.

We are happy to announce that the full House of Delegates passed the minimum wage bill on Friday with an amendment that addresses the Coalition’s concerns. The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.

Medication Assisted Treatment for Substance Use Disorders
The Senate Finance Committee and the House Judiciary Committee have each held hearings on SB 846 / HB 116. These bills require that individuals entering state and local correctional facilities be assessed for opioid use disorder (OUD) and that medication assisted treatment be available as appropriate. They also require behavioral health counseling for inmates diagnosed with OUD, access to peer recovery specialists and a comprehensive reentry plan to ensure continuity of care on release.

Coalition members are now negotiating with a variety of key stakeholders to address some concerns that have been raised related to the bill’s fiscal implications.

Outpatient Civil Commitment
The Senate Finance Committee and the House Health and Government Operations (HGO) Committee have each received testimony on SB 403 / HB 427. These bills would expand a Baltimore City pilot program that targets a comprehensive range of community-based and client-centered services to hard-to-engage individuals with serious mental illness.

The HGO Public Health Subcommittee will consider HB 427 tomorrow.

Other Hearings and Briefings

The Coalition priorities listed above aren’t the only critical policy issues being addressed in the coming days. Here are a few more of the activities the MHAMD public policy team is focused on this week. Our complete bill list is attached.

  • HB 938 MHAMD supports this bill creating a framework for the delivery of specialty behavioral health services that includes a range of consumer-focused responsibilities and functions. [Wednesday, March 6 – 1:00 p.m. – House Health and Government Operations Committee]
  • HB 941 MHAMD supports this bill requiring development of a plan for the uniform and system-wide adoption of measurement-based care for mental health and substance use disorder services. [Wednesday, March 6 – 1:00 p.m. – House Health and Government Operations Committee]
  • SB 524 / HB 605 MHAMD supports these bills allowing psychiatric nurse practitioners to participate on Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) teams via telehealth. [Wednesday, March 6 – 1:00 p.m. – Senate Finance Committee and House Health and Government Operations Committee]

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


MHAMD Legislative Update for February 11, 2019

Keep the Door Open 2019

Parity Transparency and Compliance

As part of its effort to divert behavioral health patients from emergency rooms and general hospitals, the Behavioral Health Coalition is working to ensure the strict enforcement of the federal law requiring insurance parity for mental health and substance use disorders. Accordingly, the Coalition is supporting legislation introduced last week that increases consumer protections and requires greater accountability for health insurance carriers.

SB 631 | HB 599 requires insurance carriers to:
• Submit an annual parity compliance report, modeled on the U.S. Department of Labor’s Parity Act Self-Compliance Tool, and data related to benefit decisions;
• Inform consumers of their parity rights in adverse decision letters;
• Make their report available to plan members and a summary report available to members and the public.

The bill would require the Maryland Insurance Administration (MIA) to develop a uniform reporting tool, review carrier reports, impose remedial measures to correct violations and post carrier summary reports on its website.

Behavioral Health Coalition Rally and March on Annapolis
Wednesday, February 20, at Noon

The 2019 Behavioral Health Coalition Rally and March on Annapolis is just around the corner! Join MHAMD and the Coalition on February 20 as we rally in support of the full 2019 Keep the Door Open Legislative Platform.

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 or help us promote the rally on social media. Below are some sample tweets you can use (just copy and paste). And be sure to follow and repost content from the Keep the Door Open Twitter and Facebook accounts.

• I will be marching on Annapolis @ noon on February 20 to tell #MDGA19 to support Marylanders with #behavioralhealth needs. See you there! #keepthedooropenmd https://bit.ly/2FenKxg

• Join me February 20 at the #keepthedooropenmd March on Annapolis to show support for #behavioralhealth services. https://bit.ly/2FenKxg

• Feb. 20 @ noon: Join me at the #keepthedooropenmd March on Annapolis to tell our elected officials to support ALL Marylanders with mental health and substance use disorders. https://bit.ly/2FenKxg

• Come march with me! I will joining hundreds of others to rally and march from the Maryland Fire-Rescue Memorial to the State House to show support for #behavioralhealth services. #keepthedooropenmd https://bit.ly/2FenKxg

Upcoming Hearings and Briefings

Over 2,100 bills have been introduced since the Maryland General Assembly convened on January 9, and the MHAMD public policy team is tracking it all. These are a few of the activities we are focused on this week.

SB 778 MHAMD supports this bill requiring a report and recommendations for ways to better identify students with traumatic brain injury [Wednesday, February 13- 1:00 p.m. – Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee]
HB 256 MHAMD supports this bill requiring guidelines and training to ensure a trauma-informed approach in Maryland schools [Thursday, February 14 – 1:00 p.m. – House Ways and Means Committee]

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


MHAMD Legislative Update for February 4, 2019

2019 Legislative Briefing and Reception

This is the week! The MHAMD 2019 Legislative Briefing and Reception is TOMORROW at the Hotel Annapolis. In addition to our keynote speaker and our Champions of Today award ceremony, we’ll hear directly from policymakers about a range of behavioral health bills and issues being considered this legislative session. Expected speakers and topics include:

  • Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford – Hogan Administration Behavioral Health Policy and Funding Priorities
  • Senator Addie EckardtSB 178 Behavioral Health Programs – Medical Directors – Telehealth
  • Delegate Erek BarronHB 116 Public Health – Correctional Services – Opioid Use Disorders Examination and Treatment and HB 427 Behavioral Health Administration – Outpatient Civil Commitment – Statewide Expansion
  • Delegate Ariana Kelly – Health Insurance – Parity Transparency and Compliance Reporting
  • Delegate Sandy Rosenberg – Behavioral Health Transformation Act of 2019 and Medicaid – Public Behavioral Health System – Outcomes, Accountability, Efficiency

Tickets are still available, but time is running out! Learn more and register here.

Keep the Door Open 2019

Minimum Wage

Legislation has been introduced to increase Maryland’s minimum wage over a period of years. The bill includes language increasing reimbursement rates for certain health service providers to offset costs that would be incurred when implementing the minimum wage increase. However, IT DOES NOT include similar language for community mental health and substance use treatment providers, who are in the same exact situation. Community behavioral health provider rates are set by the state, meaning any unfunded increase in staffing costs would negatively impact service delivery.

The Behavioral Health Coalition supports increasing the minimum wage – it would be very helpful for low-wage Marylanders, including many who work as frontline community behavioral health staff. But increasing the minimum wage without offsetting the associated costs for community providers would undo all the progress made in recent years to Keep the Door Open, further limiting an already strained mental health and substance use treatment delivery system.

For that reason, the Coalition has adopted a position of SUPPORT WITH AN AMENDMENT to increase behavioral health reimbursement rates accordingly. A press release was issued last week further outlining this position.

Outpatient Civil Commitment

As part of its effort to divert behavioral health patients from emergency rooms and general hospitals, the Behavioral Health Coalition is working to expand programs that target treatment and resources to the hardest-to-engage individuals. Accordingly, the Coalition is supporting legislation introduced last week to expand an outpatient civil commitment pilot program that has been delivering a comprehensive range of community-based services to eligible individuals in Baltimore City.

SB 403 | HB 427 allows other jurisdictions to create outpatient civil commitment programs within an established framework, and it expands the way in which people can receive the services by allowing families or the individual seeking care to petition directly to the state for admission into the program. The bill also provides for ongoing stakeholder oversight and program evaluation.

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 and policy activities MHAMD is focused on this week. Here is the current bill list.

  • SB 178 MHAMD supports this bill to expand the delivery of behavioral health services through the use of telehealth [Wednesday, February 6 – 1:30 p.m. – Senate Finance Committee]
  • SB 223 MHAMD supports this bill requiring guidelines and training to ensure a trauma-informed approach in Maryland schools [Wednesday, February 6 – 1:00 p.m. – Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee]
  • HB 145 MHAMD supports this bill outlining a series of rights THAT must be afforded to every hospital patient [Wednesday, February 6 – 2:00 p.m. – House Health and Government Operations Committee]

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


MHAMD Legislative Update for January 28, 2019

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.

We will work this week to put the finishing touches on the 2019 Behavioral Health Coalition Legislative Platform. Bills are being drafted now to expand an outpatient civil commitment pilot program and to improve health insurer compliance with the federal behavioral health insurance parity law. Official introduction of the various initiatives is expected in the coming days. We will provide bill numbers and additional details when available.

In the meantime, be sure to follow the Coalition’s Keep the Door Open campaign on Facebook and Twitter for all the most up-to-date information.

MHAMD Legislative Briefing and Reception

The 2019 MHAMD Legislative Briefing and Reception is just over a week away! If you haven’t already, please register and join us on Tuesday, February 5 at the Annapolis Hotel.

In addition to a keynote from Sue Klebold and the latest updates on 2019 legislation, we will take the opportunity to celebrate our 2019 Champions of Today, honoring those 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:

  • Senator Edward J. Kasemeyerand Senator Thomas “Mac” Middleton – Lifetime Distinguished Service Awards
  • Delegate Sheree Sample-Hughes – Legislator of the Year Award
  • Tom Merrick – Paula U. Hamburger Child Advocacy Award

Learn more and register here.

Upcoming Hearings, Briefings and Other Activities

As we inch toward February, bill introductions are increasing and the Maryland General Assembly is squarely focused on the business of hearing and voting on legislation in committee. A majority of the Senate bills are expected to be introduced by the introduction deadline next Monday, February 4. The House deadline is Friday, February 8. Here are some of the legislative and policy activities MHAMD is focused on this week. Our current bill list is attached.

  • HB 77 MHAMD supports this bill providing that attempted suicide is not a crime in Maryland [Tuesday, January 29 – 1:00 p.m. – House Judiciary Committee]
  • Briefing on the Total Cost of Care Model [Tuesday, January 29 – 1:00 p.m. – Senate Finance Committee]
  • Governor Larry Hogan delivers the State of the State address to a joint session of the Maryland General Assembly [Wednesday, January 30 – Noon]

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


MHAMD Legislative Update for January 21, 2019

The 2019 session is off to a promising start! Governor Larry Hogan submitted his fiscal year 2020 budget to the legislature last week, and we are happy to announce that the proposal includes full funding for all prior ‘Keep the Door Open’ budget commitments.

Over the past few years, the General Assembly has approved Behavioral Health Coalition priority legislation establishing multi-year funding increases for:

  • Community mental health and substance use treatment services (over $68 million in FY20)
  • Behavioral health crisis response services ($3 million in FY20)
  • A pilot program to improve the delivery of behavioral health care in primary care settings ($550,000 in FY20).

Ensuring full funding for these commitments was one of the Coalition’s top legislative priorities this year, and we are thrilled to begin the session with a big win for Marylanders with behavioral health needs.

Keep the Door Open 2019

Last week’s budget announcement was good news, but our work is far from complete. Overdose deaths continue to rise and demand for mental health and substance use treatment is skyrocketing. Accordingly, the Behavioral Health Coalition is laser-focused on passing common sense initiatives to expand access to behavioral health services.

One priority this year is the expansion of medication-assisted treatment (MAT) and other substance use treatment options. MAT is an evidence-based practice that combines behavioral therapy and medications to treat opioid addiction and other substance use disorders. Although it is increasingly considered the gold standard for treatment of opioid use disorders, it is woefully underutilized, particularly in settings where it can have the biggest impact. Legislation was introduced last week to address this issue.

House Bill 116 requires that individuals entering state and local correctional facilities be assessed for opioid use disorders within 24 hours and that MAT be available as appropriate. The bill is modeled after a Rhode Island program that has resulted in a 60% reduction in overdose deaths for people leaving jails and prisons, which has translated to a 12% reduction in overdose deaths in their general population. The House Judiciary Committee will receive testimony on this bill at 1:00 p.m. on Tuesday, January 29.

Keep and eye out over the coming weeks for information about more Behavioral Health Coalition priorities!

MHAMD Legislative Briefing and Reception

Join MHAMD on February 5 for our 2019 Legislative Briefing and Reception. Sue Klebold, our keynote presenter, is among the parents whose anguish most of us will never know. Not only did she lose her son Dylan, who was one of the individuals who carried out the Columbine school shooting nearly 20 years ago, but as a parent survivor she bears the overwhelming guilt resulting from this senseless loss of life in her ordinary suburban community.

In the aftermath of the tragedy, Sue remained out of the public eye while struggling with devastating grief and humiliation. Her search for understanding would span over fifteen years, during which she volunteered for suicide prevention organizations, questioned experts, talked with fellow survivors of loss, and examined the crucial intersection between mental health and violence. As a result of her exploration, Sue emerged a passionate advocate, dedicated to the advancement of mental health awareness, research and suicide prevention.

At a time when school shootings and similar tragedies are occurring with more and more frequency, we look to stories like Sue’s for insight that can help inform and shape policy to keep Maryland schools and institutions safe while ensuring our children with mental health needs have access to necessary and appropriate resources. Learn more and register here.

Upcoming Hearings, Briefings and Other Activities

Bill introductions have been slow so far, but we expect a flurry of activity in the coming weeks as a number of important procedural deadlines are fast approaching. Here are some of the activities MHAMD is watching this week.

  • Briefing on the All-Payer Model and the Maryland Primary Care Program [Tuesday, January 22- 1:00 p.m. – House Health and Government Operations Committee]
  • Briefing on the Opioid Operational Command Center and the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program[Wednesday, January 23 – 1:00 p.m. – House Health and Government Operations Committee]
  • Briefing from the Kirwan Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education [Thursday, January 24 – 1:30 p.m. in the Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee and again at 3:30 in the Department of Legislative Services Joint Hearing Room]

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


MHAMD Legislative Update for January 14, 2019

Happy New Year! Today the Maryland General Assembly begins the first full week of the 2019 legislative session. Elected officials will spend the next few months debating Maryland’s budget and over 2,000 legislative proposals covering an array of issues. As in years past, MHAMD expects to play a major role in these deliberations as we work to ensure that our friends and loved ones living with mental health and substance use disorders have access to high quality services.

2019 Maryland Behavioral Health Coalition Agenda

MHAMD has joined with its partners on the Maryland Behavioral Health Coalition in support of an ambitious agenda for the 2019 session. Building on a resoundingly successful 2018 campaign in which every Coalition priority was enacted, the Coalition is once again asking legislators to Keep the Door Open for the one in four Marylanders with behavioral health needs. In 2019, the Coalition aims to:

  • Ensure full funding for prior “Keep the Door Open” budget commitments
  • Increase school behavioral health supports to improve student outcomes
  • Increase access to medication-assisted treatment and other substance use treatment options
  • Take steps to divert behavioral health patients from emergency rooms and general hospitals

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

Announcement on Funding for Opioid Crisis | Commission to Study Mental and Behavioral Health

Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford announced last week a Hogan administration plan to increase spending for substance use treatment and prevention efforts, including capital funding for recovery residences, local treatment facilities and community organizations. The Lt. Governor also announced a new Executive Order, signed by Governor Hogan, establishing the Commission to Study Mental and Behavioral Health in Maryland. The Commission is charged with, among other things, “advising and assisting the Governor in improving access to a continuum of mental health services across the state.” MHAMD is awaiting further information related to these initiatives. Stay tuned for more details as they become available.

Mark Your Calendars

Join MHAMD on February 5 for our 2019 Legislative Briefing and Reception, where we will explore an issue that is among the most challenging for the mental health community. Learn more and register here.

Join the Maryland Behavioral Health Coalition on February 20 for the Keep the Door Open March on Annapolis. Make your voice heard and stand up for the one in four Marylanders living with a mental health or substance use disorder. And be sure to follow the Coalition on Twitter and Facebook.

Upcoming Hearings, Briefings and Other Activities

With the session just five days old, bill introductions have been limited. Nevertheless, there are several activities of note in the coming days. In addition to the briefings listed below, MHAMD will be paying close attention this week when Governor Hogan introduces his Fiscal Year 2020 budget. Check out our update next week for initial reactions.

  • Briefing on the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange [Tuesday, January 15 – 1:00 p.m. – House Health and Government Operations Committee]
  • Briefing on Extreme Risk Protective Orders [Tuesday, January 15 – 1:00 p.m. – House Judiciary Committee]
  • Briefing on Psychiatric Beds, Telemedicine, and the Medicaid Community Options Waiver [Thursday, January 17 – 1:00 p.m. – Senate Finance Committee]
  • Briefing from the Justice Reinvestment Oversight Board [Thursday, January 17 – 1:00 p.m. – Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee]
  • Briefing on the Opioid Epidemic and Funding [Thursday, January 17 – 2:00 p.m. – House Appropriations Committee]
  • Meeting of the Kirwan Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education [Friday, January 18 – 12:30 p.m. – Room 130 House Office Building]

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


See the latest mental health advocacy posts from the MHAMD Perspectives Blog

Maryland Among Worst States for Access to Affordable In-Network Services for Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Treatment

According to an independent report by Milliman, Inc., Maryland residents are struggling to access affordable behavioral health (mental health and substance use disorder) treatment under their private insurance plans.  Continue Reading >

Past Legislative Reports