The General Assembly is underway and we need our state elected officials to help us Keep the Door Open! You can help by contacting your representatives and asking them to support the Behavioral Health Coalition’s legislative agenda. Our priorities for 2020 are:

IMPROVE ACCESS TO AND COORDINATION OF QUALITY COMMUNITY BEHAVIORAL HEALTH SERVICES
Marylanders with commercial insurance still struggle to access timely in-network behavioral health care, and many Medicaid consumers are unable to take advantage of everything our nationally recognized public behavioral health system has to offer, including integrated models like certified community behavioral health clinics (CCBHC). The Behavioral Health Coalition’s 2020 platform addresses these challenges through:

≫ Systemwide implementation of measurement-based care and value-based purchasing; strengthening accountability within local system management and the provider network; and ensuring integration of non-Medicaid services and systems such as housing, education, criminal justice and non-Medicaid health services in the Public Behavioral Health System.

≫ Parity legislation to include consumer payment protections for out of network care, parity compliance and data reporting.

The state must adopt the Behavioral Health Coalition’s multi-pronged platform for modernizing Maryland’s public behavioral health system for modernizing Maryland’s public behavioral health system and enact policies to ensure the appropriate enforcement of federal and state parity laws.

FULLY FUND PRIOR KEEP THE DOOR OPEN AND MINIMUM WAGE BUDGET COMMITMENTS
Long-overdue multi-year behavioral health provider rate increases were included in the HOPE Act of 2017 and minimum wage legislation in 2019. In 2018, the legislature enacted multi-year funding initiatives to expand crisis response services and improve the delivery of behavioral health care in primary care settings. We must keep these prior budget commitments in FY 2021 to prevent a reduction in access to community mental health and substance use disorder services.

INCREASE SCHOOL BEHAVIORAL HEALTH SUPPORTS TO IMPROVE STUDENT OUTCOMES
The Kirwan Commission issued a report in January 2019 that included a comprehensive set of strategies for enhancing school-based behavioral health services, which have been shown to improve student health and educational outcomes. In addressing the full range of Kirwan recommendations, the legislature must prioritize the adoption of, and ensure adequate funding for, those related to school behavioral health.

EXPAND ACCESS TO CRISIS RESPONSE SERVICES, OVERDOSE AND SUICIDE PREVENTION EFFORTS
An inability to access quality mental health and substance use disorder services in the community is forcing more Marylanders into costly emergency departments or discouraging them from seeking care at all. This crisis in access is tied to an exponential increase in the number of Marylanders lost to suicide, unintentional overdose and other preventable deaths. We must prioritize the development of a statewide comprehensive crisis response system and increase the availability of harm reduction interventions.

Look up your elected officials here.