April 20, 2023

Victories for public health from Annapolis!

The 2023 Maryland General Assembly session is officially a wrap! The Horizon Foundation and its statewide partners were busy this year, supporting scores of bills that would bolster the state’s mental health and behavioral health care system, improve access to quality, affordable health insurance, support our health care workforce and promote health equity in Maryland. The legislature passed the following bills supported by the Foundation, and each of them are headed to Governor Moore’s desk.

SB 3/HB 271: The very first bill passed this session! This bill provides much needed $12 million in additional funding for the 988 Trust Fund to support reliable planning and capacity building for the Maryland 988 mental health crisis network. The Foundation also wrote testimony in support of the budget for the Maryland Department of Health’s Behavioral Health Administration to fully fund 988 and other behavioral health services.

SB 283/HB 418: establishes a statewide fund to assist with costs associated with educating, training, certifying, recruiting, placing, and retaining behavioral health professionals and paraprofessionals. The bill also requires the Maryland Health Care Commission to conduct a comprehensive behavioral health workforce needs assessment. This bill will help broaden the mental and behavioral health workforce so all Marylanders can access the care they need.

SB 601/HB 814: removes the sunset on a law passed in 2021 which invested up to $20 million per year for two years to help lower-income young adults ages 18-34 purchase health coverage.

SB 806: sets up a study to recommend different potential paths to quality, affordable healthcare coverage for those ineligible for the Maryland Medical Assistance Program, Maryland Children’s Health Insurance Program or qualified health plans through the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange.

SB 555: moves up the date to increase Maryland’s minimum wage to $15 per hour.

SB 228/HB 614: establishes a statewide care coordination program providing cognitive assessments, assistance programs for individuals experiencing dementia, supports for caregivers aiding individuals with dementia, technical support for local Area Agencies on Aging (AAA) and connecting caregivers and patients to health providers.

SB 101/HB 48: permanently expands access to and provides reimbursement for services provided in accordance with the Collaborative Care Model under the state’s Medicaid program. This will expand access to mental health care for all Marylanders, Howard County residents included, using a proven, patient-centric model.

SB 362: requires the Maryland Department of Health to pursue the establishment of Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHCS) through a federal application process. CCBHCS provide a comprehensive range of outpatient mental health and substance use treatment and care coordination, regardless of one’s insurance status or ability to pay.

SB 582/HB 1148: establishes the Commission on Behavioral Health Care Treatment and Access, which will make recommendations regarding on-demand behavioral health services. This will bolster Maryland’s behavioral and mental health care continuum, resulting in much-needed community-based supports for communities who have historically lacked access.

Not all of the bills we supported this year passed – in particular, we are very disappointed that the Access to Care Act, which would have expanded access to the state’s health insurance marketplace to all Marylanders regardless of immigration status, failed to gain traction in the Senate despite being passed by the House. The Foundation will continue to support efforts to expand access to quality, affordable health care for all uninsured residents.

THANK YOU to all of our statewide partners and community members who worked so hard this session and raised their voices in support of improving our health care system and health equity in our state.