The list below highlights bills passed by the Maryland General Assembly during the 2020 Legislative Session which was cut short due to the current health crisis. As of this posting date, all bills are currently awaiting the Governor’s signature before becoming law, with the exception of HB 1663/SB 1080, which Governor Hogan signed on March 19, 2020. Due to the current health crisis, the Governor has been unable to attend to bill signings.
As passed by the legislature, the budget includes a 4% Medicaid provider rate increase for behavioral health services, starting July 1, 2020.
- HB 303/SB 182 – State Board of Professional Counselors and Therapists - Sunset Extension and Program Evaluation. This bill extends the Board’s sunset date through July 1, 2026. In addition, the Board must provide regular updates to the Maryland General Assembly through 2025 on:
- Addressing the Board’s complaint backlog;
- Adoption of regulations related to education and experience requirements; and
- Establishing an Alcohol and Drug Counselor Subcommittee.
- HB 332/SB 441 – Mental Health - Confidentiality of Medical Records and Emergency Facilities List. This bill requires the Maryland Department of Health to include in its list of emergency facilities: comprehensive crisis response centers, crisis stabilization centers, crisis treatment centers, and outpatient mental health clinics. The list has historically only included hospitals with emergency departments and is made available an annual basis to health departments, judges, sheriff’s offices, police stations, and Secret Service office in the state. The revised list will also now be sent to local behavioral health authorities.
- HB 1121 – Maryland Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Registry and Referral System. This bill establishes a behavioral health services registry and referral system in the Department of Health so health care providers can identify and access available inpatient and outpatient behavioral health services for patients/clients.
The legislature passed three telehealth bills impacting behavioral health services:
- HB 448/SB 402 – Health Care Practitioners - Telehealth and Shortage. This bill permits all licensed health care practitioners to provide telehealth services using synchronous and asynchronous technologies according to existing standards of care and applicable laws related to consent, privacy, and prescribing.
- HB 1208/SB 502 – Telehealth - Mental Health and Chronic Condition Management Services - Coverage and Pilot Program. This bill requires Medicaid to reimburse mental health services provided to a patient in their home. Currently, Medicaid requires an individual to be in a clinical setting in order for the provider to seek reimbursement. Medicaid must also study and report by December 1, 2021 on the appropriateness of providing substance use disorder services in a patient’s home. The bill also requires private insurers who reimburse for telehealth services to provide reimbursement on par with in-person service rates.
- HB 1663/SB 1080 - State Government - State of Emergency and Catastrophic Health Emergency - Authority of Governor and Unemployment Insurance Benefits (COVID-19 Public Health Emergency Protection Act of 2020). This emergency legislation includes requirements related to COVID-19 for the coverage of services, testing, and telehealth. This includes permitting the Governor to waive existing telehealth requirements for health care providers. The bill is effective through April 30, 2021.
Behavioral Health in Schools
- HB 277/SB 367 – State Department of Education - Guidelines on Trauma-Informed Approach. This bill requires the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) to develop and distribute guidelines to assist schools with implementing comprehensive trauma-informed policies. MSDE must consult with the Department of Health and the Department of Human Services in developing the guidelines.
HB 1300/SB 1000 – Blueprint for Maryland's Future – Implementation. This bill implements recommendations from the Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education, also known as the Kirwan Commission. The bill includes two funding mechanisms for the provision of behavioral health services:
- Per Pupil Funding for Wraparound Services: Starting in FY 22, schools with a concentration of poverty between 55% and 100% will receive funding on a sliding scale for wraparound services, including increased access to mental health practitioners and professional development to school staff to provide trauma-informed interventions.
- Maryland Consortium on Coordinated Community Supports: This new entity will coordinate community behavioral health supports and services in schools, including providing grants to support services in schools. Funding will be phased in, beginning in FY 22 at $25 million. By FY 26, the annual funding allocation will be $125 million a year.