MACo to Hogan: Stay Strong on Heroin

Maryland remains within the grips of an opioid and heroin crisis despite a vigorous undertaking, with widespread support from state and local stakeholders, to tackle the rise of related deaths and serious incidents.

In a letter to Governor Hogan, MACo President John Barr and Executive Director Michael Sanderson thank him and his Administration for the hard work to address the statewide substance abuse crisis and urge him to continue those efforts. The issue remains important to local governments and MACo stands as a ready and willing partner to advance the health and safety of our communities.

On setting a strong base of prevention and education:

Counties believe outreach should begin earlier and in an age-appropriate manner and that curricula should be modernized. The sooner and more thoroughly we educate our youth, the better prepared they will be when confronted with substance abuse personally or within their families.

Recommendations from the Heroin and Opioid Emergency Task Force reinforced our beliefs and the need to address these concerns…MACo urges the Administration to continue and strengthen these efforts.

On breaking the barriers and alleviating the burdens that limit the potential of new approaches to to the problem:

Local health departments are adjusting to the state’s move from a grant-based model for substance abuse treatment to a fee-for-service model. The shift seeks to expand and leverage federal Medicaid funding for behavioral health services. While this goal is laudable, obstacles exist that limit the potential advantages of the shift from being fully realized. Not all services delivered are billable under Medicaid. Further, individuals needing treatment who are underinsured and/or ineligible for Medicaid may go completely unserved. This weakness poses a great risk both to these individuals and to our communities.

On continuing to leverage resources and to invest in stemming the crisis:

Counties are grateful for the financial support the Administration has provided, In recent months counties have been awarded grants that have enabled them to sustain or launch new programs. Maryland’s first day reporting center was made possible only through a partnership and combined investment from the Administration and Washington County. This model — both in service innovation and collaborative funding — needs to expand rapidly across the state.

MACo urges the Administration to continue to invest in these grant opportunities…Strategic grant funding can make limited resources go a long way as we work together to ameliorate this crisis.

While much has been accomplished, the battle against this crisis is far from over. Read MACo’s letter to Governor Hogan to learn more about how counties hope to see the fight continue.