MACo Supports Overdose Prevention Efforts, Seeks to Ensure Proper Resources

MACo Executive Director Michael Sanderson testified to amend legislation of House Bill 1329, “Heroin and Opioid Pevention Effort (HOPE) and Treatment Act of 2017”. MACo supports the goal of addressing the continuing opioid overdose and addiction problem confronting communities across Maryland but offers amendments to ensure the bill will not overburden local resources.

MACo’s testimony states,

Counties support the efforts of HB 1329 to provide Maryland residents with greater access to a broader range of treatment services and support.

Counties are only concerned with language of the bill that sets a burdensome mandate on certain health care facilities, including local health departments, to have at least one buprenorphine provider available for every 100 patients served. This mandate would be extremely difficult to meet. It is unmanageable and sets unrealistic expectations on health care facilities to provide these specific services even if their patient population does not support the need for the services.

To address our concerns, the bill should be amended so that the health care facilities ensure their patients have access to the services of healthcare providers that are trained and authorized to prescribe opioid addiction medications, including buprenorphine-containing formulas. To comply with this directive, the facilities should have the flexibility to directly employ, contract with, or refer to the appropriate providers. The facilities should not be required to meet any specific provider-to-patient threshold.

HB 1329 was heard by the House Health and Government Operations Committee on March 7, 2017. MACo’s Associate Director, Natasha Mehu, testified on the cross-file for the bill, SB 967, was heard by the Senate Finance and Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs committees on March 8, 2017.

Follow MACo’s advocacy efforts during the 2017 Legislative Session here.