Part II of MCF’s Mission:
“Advocate to improve services and systems that impact individuals with behavioral health challenges and their families.”
MCF is best know for providing family peer support, but there is a second part to our mission: advocacy. There are a number of ways to work to improve services and systems. One is by serving on policy-making committees and bringing the perspective of families to the table. Another is by developing reports based on focus groups with families, and disseminating the findings to policy-makers. The most visible way to advocate, however, is through the legislative process.
Ann Geddes, MCF’s Director of Public Policy, is very active during the Maryland legislative session (January 10 – April 9). She regularly meets with partner advocacy organizations, establishes policy platforms, meets with legislators, and offers testimony on legislation, both written and oral.
Some of the more important bills that have been introduced this session that MCF has been focusing on are:
House Bill (HB) 48/Senate Bill (SB) 101 – expands the Collaborative Care Model to people insured through Medicaid. Most people receive their behavioral health medication from a primary care doctor or pediatrician. The Collaborative Care Model, by pairing a primary care provider with a care coordinator, providing psychiatric consultation, measuring progress, and ensuring adequate reimbursement, improves outcomes for people seeking behavioral health treatment in primary care.
HB 274/SB 387 – establishes a Task Force to study how to reduce emergency department wait times. Maryland has the longest emergency department wait times of any state in the nation.
HB 322/SB 255 – seeks to improve the services offered in the Targeted Case Management and 1915(i) programs, by aligning them with the Wraparound model of serving youth with more intensive behavioral health needs and their families. It provides for better training of care coordinators, increased rates for Care Coordinating Organizations and evidence-based practices, and more funds for customized goods and services. It also requires that the Behavioral Health Administration expand the eligibility criteria for the programs.
HB 427/SB 546 – expands the provisions of Maryland’s Good Samaritan Law, by extending the legal protections that are provided to people who call for help if they observe an overdose, to the person who themselves is experiencing the overdose.
SB 108 – Requires that insurers cover an annual mental health check-up, just as they cover a annual physical health check-up.