2015 End of Session Wrap Up: Health and Human Services

This post summarizes the status of Health and Human Services bills that MACo took a position on during the 2015 Regular Session.

Substance Abuse Treatment Outcomes Partnership Fund: HB 971/SB 641 revitalizes the STOP fund program housed in the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene by giving local government greater flexibility to use the grant funds for certain substance abuse treatment and related prevention and outreach efforts.  The grant program supports targeted substance abuse treatment services and populations, as proposed by county governments in response to local needs. SB 641/HB 971 expands the list of eligible populations and functions for grant usage. The STOP program was created by a previous MACo initiative in 2001 and MACo supported this bill as part of its 2015 legislative initiative to provide counties with broad tools to tackle the drug crisis.

MACo testimony on SB 641/HB 971.

Final Status: SB 641 was signed into law by the Governor on Tuesday, April 14, 2015.

Overdose Response Program: HB 745/ SB 516 alters the Overdose Response Program (ORP) by expanding who is authorized to provide trainings and who is able to prescribe and dispense naloxone. The bill authorizes certain practitioners to prescribe naloxone through standing orders and directly to an individual at risk for experiencing an overdose. It also sets certain immunity protections for health care providers and individuals administering naloxone. MACo supported HB 745/SB 516 as the bill maximized the program’s potential for getting individuals who are in the best position to save a life by administering naloxone trained and equipped to do so.

MACo testimony on HB 745/SB 516.

Final Status: HB 745/SB 516 passed the General Assembly and awaits action by the Governor.

Joint Committee on Behavioral Health and Opioid Use Disorders: HB 896/ SB 607 as originally introduced the bill established a comprehensive Opioid Use Disorder Consortium to develop a strategic statewide plan, including timeline for actions, to treat and reduce opioid use disorders in the state. As amended the bill brings together a joint legislative committee to oversee, review and evaluate state and local programs to treat and reduce behavioral health and opioid use disorders. This allows the joint committee to coordinate with and build upon the governor’s administration efforts to address behavioral health and opioid use disorder issues plaguing the state. MACo supported this bill as it maximizes information sharing and the leveraging of existing resources to develop a long-term plan for addressing behavioral health and opioid use disorders.

MACo testimony on HB 896/SB 607.

Final Status: HB 896/SB 607 passed the General Assembly and awaits action from the Governor.

Local Aids Prevention Sterile Needle and Syringe Exchange Programs: HB 973 repealed a requirement that an AIDS Prevention Sterile Needle and Exchange Program may only be established in the Prince George’s County Health Department and authorized the establishment of an AIDS Prevention Sterile Needle and Syringe Exchange Program by specified entities in any jurisdiction. The bill also repealed the one-for-one limitation on the exchange of used hypodermic needles and syringes. MACo supported this bill with amendments as the bill provided an additional tool for local governments to address substance abuse and reduce opioid-related deaths. The programs help reduce the spread of infectious diseases such as HIV and hepatitis C, and could be used as a platform to engage individuals overdose education, referrals to treatment and other public-health related services. MACo sought amendments clarifying that the governing body of a local jurisdiction had the definitive say in whether an exchange program would operate in the jurisdiction.

MACo testimony on HB 973.

Final Status: HB 973 received an unfavorable report by the House Health and Government Operations Committee.

Prescription Drug Monitoring Program: SB 757 requires the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program to disclose prescription monitoring data to certain additional entities including Local Drug Overdose Fatality Review Teams, Local Child Fatality Review Teams, and medical review committees appointed by or established by a local health department. MACo supported this bill as the data sharing is important in assisting appropriate local entities in identifying prescription drug abuse and unlawful prescription drug diversion.

MACo testimony on SB 757.

Final Status: SB 757 passed the General Assembly and awaits action from the Governor.

Electronic Cigarettes – Sale to Minors: HB 489/ SB 7 extends current laws banning sale of e-cigarettes to minors to also include refills, equipment and related paraphernalia. The bill further modifies enforcement provisions by establishing a civil fine for offenders and requiring the District Court to remit penalties collected to the county in which the violation of the Act occurred. MACo joined with the Maryland Association of County Health Officers in supporting this bill to close the loophole.

MACo testimony on HB 489/SB 7.

Final Status: HB 489/SB 7 passed the General Assembly and awaits action from the Governor.

Ambulance Service Providers – Direct Reimbursement: HB 562/SB 869  removes the sunset provision on a law that requires insurers, health maintenance organizations and nonprofit health services to directly reimburse local and volunteer ambulance service providers. MACo supported this bill as it ensures continuation of the fair and efficient process to guarantee local ambulance providers are compensated for services they provide.

MACo testimony on HB 562/SB 869.

Final Status: HB 562 passed the General Assembly and awaits action from the Governor. SB 869 passed the Senate but remained in the House Rules and Executive Nominations Committee.