Check back as new testimony is currently being added most weeks. (Testimony from prior years is in the Advocacy Archive Report.) MDDCSAM’s written testimony is listed below. Each entry is listed by bill title. The bill numbers, with links to the proposed legislation, are below the title entry, followed by sponsor names, and then MDDCSAM's position on the bill. You can also lookup state legislation and hear oral testimony on the Maryland General Assembly's website

Access and Evidence-Based Treatment

Correctional Services - Pregnant Incarcerated Individuals - Substance Abuse Assessment and Treatment

HB 235. Del. Wanika Fisher. SUPPORT.

Requiring that a certain pregnant incarcerated individual be screened for substance use disorder at intake using a validated screening tool; requiring that a certain pregnant incarcerated individual be referred immediately to a behavioral health care provider and a reproductive health care provider for certain purposes; requiring a certain correctional unit to ensure that a pregnant incarcerated individual continues to receive certain medication in a certain manner under certain circumstances; etc.

Health - Standards for Involuntary Admissions and Petitions for Emergency Evaluation - Substance Use Disorder

HB 29. Del. Julian Ivey. OPPOSE.

Altering certain circumstances to allow a petition for an emergency evaluation to be made for certain individuals who have a substance use disorder; altering a certain exception to allow for the involuntary admission of certain individuals who have a substance use disorder to certain facilities or a Veterans' Administration hospital; etc.

Mental Health Law - Petitions for Emergency Evaluation - Procedures

HB 537. Del. Ruth. SUPPORT.

For patients who need an emergency evaluation, rather than requiring that the police be involved in every case, the bill gives the clinician/petitioner (who may be working in a mobile unit) the option of either involving or not involving the police, since the petition may be safely served, and the patient transported, by the petitioner in some cases.  This may reduce unnecessary and potentially harmful interactions with police.  Included amendments were suggested by the Maryland Psychiatric Society, and are acceptable to the sponsors, to require police to respond when requested, to reduce liability for the petitioner, and to resist adding additional petitioner categories.

Maryland Transit Administration – Disabled Reduced Fare Program for Opioid Treatment Program Patients – Modifications

HB 947. Del. Wells. SUPPORT. 

Since OTP patients with transportation challenges are often required to attend treatment daily, OTP providers frequently complete the MTA’s application for the Disability Reduced (bus) Fare Program.  All patients qualify because OUD qualifies as a disability for this purpose.  Currently, each patient has to hand-deliver the completed form to the MTA office to get an ID card, which is a burden and an additional barrier to care. The bill allows OTPs to elect to provide the cards to the patient at the program.  

Telehealth

Maryland Medical Assistance Program - Psychiatrist and Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Telemedicine Reimbursement - Sunset Termination

HB 191 / SB 56. Del. Ariana Kelly, Sen. Adelaide Eckardt. SUPPORT.

Repealing the termination provisions for certain provisions of law relating to the eligibility of psychiatrists and psychiatric nurse practitioners who provide Assertive Community Treatment or mobile treatment services to Maryland Medical Assistance Program recipients in a home or community-based setting through telemedicine to receive reimbursement for the health care services from the Program.

Preserve Telehealth Access Act of 2021

HB 123 / SB 3. Del. Joseline Pena-Melnyk, et al, Sen. Melony Griffith, et al. SUPPORT.

Altering the health care services the Maryland Medical Assistance Program, subject to a certain limitation, is required to provide through telehealth; altering the circumstances under which the Program is required to provide health care services through telehealth; authorizing the Maryland Department of Health to apply to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for a certain amendment to certain waivers to implement certain requirements of this Act; etc.

Maryland Medical Assistance Program and Health Insurance - Coverage and Reimbursement of Telehealth Services

HB 551 / SB 393. Del. Heather Bagnall, Sen. Malcolm Augustine. SUPPORT.

Altering the health care services the Maryland Medical Assistance Program is required to provide through telehealth; requiring the Maryland Department of Health to include certain health care providers and programs when specifying by regulation the types of health care providers eligible to receive certain reimbursement; requiring certain insurers, nonprofit health service plans, and health maintenance organizations to provide certain coverage for certain services delivered through telehealth; etc.

Cannabis & Decriminalization

Criminal Law - Drug Paraphernalia for Administration - Decriminalization 

HB 372 / SB 420. Del. David Moon, Sen. Jill Carter. SUPPORT.

Repealing the prohibition against a person using or possessing with intent to use drug paraphernalia to inject, ingest, inhale, or otherwise introduce into the human body a controlled dangerous substance; repealing the prohibition against a person delivering or selling, or manufacturing or possessing with intent to deliver or sell drug paraphernalia under certain circumstances; altering a prohibition against a person possessing or distributing controlled paraphernalia under certain circumstances; etc.

Criminal Law - Marijuana - Possession and Possession With Intent to Distribute

HB 324 / SB 143. Del. David Moon, Sen. Jeff Waldstreicher, et al. SUPPORT.

Increasing, from 10 grams to 1 ounce, the amount of marijuana below which possession is a civil offense, rather than a criminal offense; and creating a presumption that a person in possession of less than 1 ounce of marijuana is not in violation of a certain provision of law with regard to marijuana in the absence of any other evidence of a certain violation. 

Cannabis - Legalization and Regulation (Inclusion, Restoration, and Rehabilitation Act of 2021)

HB 32. Del. Lewis. LETTER OF INFORMATION.

Altering a certain quantity threshold and establishing a certain age limit applicable to a certain civil offense of use or possession of cannabis; establishing a civil offense for use or possession of a certain amount of cannabis for a person of at least a certain age; establishing a civil offense for cultivating cannabis plants in a certain manner; providing for the licensing of cannabis establishments; establishing certain duties of the Alcohol and Tobacco Commission regarding the licensing of cannabis establishments; etc.

Criminal Law - Use or Possession of a Controlled Dangerous Substance - De Minimis Quantity

HB 488. Del. Moon. SUPPORT

Decriminalizes possession of small amounts of all drugs similar to Portugal, and now Oregon. (Note that MedChi also supported the bill for the first time this year.)

Tobacco & E-Cigarettes 

Flavored Tobacco Products - Prohibition

HB 134 / SB 177. Del. Jazz Lewis,  Sen. Mary Washington. SUPPORT.

Providing that certain licenses to manufacture, sell, buy, and store cigarettes, other tobacco products, and electronic smoking devices do not authorize the licensee to or to attempt to manufacture, ship, import, or sell into or within the State a flavored tobacco product; providing that a public statement that cigarettes, other tobacco products, or electronic smoking devices have or produce a certain smell or taste is presumptive evidence that they are flavored tobacco products if the statement is made by certain persons; etc.

Cigarettes, Other Tobacco Products, and Electronic Smoking Devices - Local Law Authorization

SB 410. Sen. Benjamin Kramer. SUPPORT.

Authorizing a county or municipality to enact and enforce local laws regulating the sale and distribution of cigarettes, other tobacco products, and electronic smoking devices, subject to certain exceptions.

Health Equity

Public Health – Implicit Bias Training and the Office of Minority Health Disparities 

HB 28 / SB 5. Del. Joseline Pena-Melnyk, et al,  Sen. Melony Griffith, et al. SUPPORT.

Requiring the Office of Minority Health and Health Disparities to publish, to a certain extent, health data that includes race and ethnicity information collected by the Office and to provide updates at least every 6 months; requiring the Governor, beginning in fiscal year 2023, to include an appropriation of at least $1,788,314 in the annual budget bill for the Office; requiring the Cultural and Linguistic Health Care Professional Competency Program to identify and approve certain implicit bias training programs; etc.

Maryland Health Equity Resource Act

HB 463 / SB 172. Del. Erek Barron, Sen. Antonio Hayes, et al. SUPPORT.

Requiring the Secretary of Health to designate certain areas as Health Equity Resource Communities in a certain manner; specifying that the purpose of establishing Health Equity Resource Communities is to reduce health disparities, improve health outcomes, improve access to primary care, promote primary and secondary prevention services and reduce health care costs and hospital admissions and readmissions; authorizing certain credits against the State income tax for certain health care providers and organizations; etc.

General Bills 

Criminal Procedure - Medical Emergency - Immunity (Expansion of the Good Samaritan Law)

HB 212. Del. Jon Cardin. SUPPORT.

Altering a provision of law to specify that a person who is experiencing a medical emergency, rather than a person who reasonably believes that the person is experiencing a medical emergency, after ingesting or using alcohol or drugs is immune from criminal arrest, charge, or prosecution for a drug or alcohol-related misdemeanor if the evidence for the arrest, charge, or prosecution was obtained solely as a result of the person seeking or receiving medical assistance; etc.

Public Health - Overdose and Infectious Disease Prevention Services Program

HB 396 / SB 279. Del. Joseline Pena-Melnyk, Sen. Shelly Hettleman, et al. SUPPORT. 

Authorizing the establishment of an Overdose and Infectious Disease Prevention Services Program by a community-based organization to provide a place for the consumption of preobtained drugs, provide sterile needles, administer first aid, and provide certain other services; providing that the Maryland Department of Health may approve not more than six programs, with two in urban areas, two in suburban areas, and two in rural areas, that operate at a single location in an area with a high incidence of drug use; etc.

Maryland Insurance Commissioner - Specialty Mental Health Services and Payment of Claims – Enforcement

HB 919SB 638. Del. Bagnall, Sen. Augustine. SUPPORT.

When Maryland decided to end its contract with Beacon and switch to Optum in January 2020, as the entity which administers Medicaid behavioral health payments, the system broke down.  Since then, providers have worked overtime to understand and fight for reimbursement "with no end in sight," leaving patients at risk.  This bill would transfer the authority to enforce Optum's contractual obligations from the MD Behavioral Health Administration to the Maryland Insurance Administration, in an attempt to have the problems rectified much sooner.