On February 25, about 100 family members, youth, advocates, legislators and their staff gathered at the Maryland Inn for MCF's Mental Health Day in Annapolis. We were fortunate to have Secretary Van Mitchell, recently appointed to lead the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, attend and say a few words. Also, two legislators with a long history of supporting mental health causes spoke: Senators Thomas "Mac" Middleton and Adelaide Eckardt. They discussed the importance of fully funding behavioral health services to ensure that Maryland's children and adults have access to the help that they need.
The program included speeches by Al Zachik, Director of the Child and Adolescent Division of the Maryland Behavioral Health Administration, who talked about current children's behavioral health initiatives going on around the state; Nancy Rosen-Cohen, Executive Director of the National Council on Alcohol and Drug Dependence Maryland, who spoke about behavioral health integration, Maryland's heroin epidemic, and the Naloxone initiative to combat opioid overdoses; and Herb Cromwell, Executive Director of Community Behavioral Health Association Maryland, who spoke about how the recently proposed $23 million in budget cuts would affect providers' ability to offer care.
Find out how you can help by asking Governor Hogan to restore the $23 million in budget cuts and read more about the day's events.
MCF supports the following three pieces of legislation:
- Senate Bill 469/House Bill 367: Requires that a comprehensive crisis response system be in place in all jurisdictions. Families usually must rely on emergency rooms in times of crisis - typically a very negative experience for both children and families. The Crisis Response legislation would expand mobile crisis teams across the state, and establish walk-in crisis centers that are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in each jurisdiction. This bill would require significant state funds to implement, so it is unlikely that it will pass, but some expansion of crisis services may take place. Any expansion of services would be helpful to families.
- Senate Bill 516/House Bill 745: Expands training about and access to Naloxone (a drug that is used to treat an opioid overdose) and grants civil immunity and protections to prescribers.
- Senate Bill 586/House Bill 1010: Requires insurers to prove to the Maryland Insurance Administration that they are following federal and state parity laws. Currently consumers bear the burden of proof to show that insurers are in violation of parity laws. Legislators have expressed strong interest in the aspect of the legislation that would require insurers to maintain up-to-date and reliable lists of their in-network providers. Inaccurate provider lists are a source of huge frustration to families.