Insurance Expansion Opens Community Access to Local Health Departments

Senate Bill 858 expands requires insurance carriers to offer contracts to local health departments (LHDs) for the delivery of certain health care treatment services. This would greatly expand access to community members to the array of direct services and resources that local health departments provide. Many rural areas of the state rely on local health departments to provide a significant amount of services, particularly focusing on mental and behavioral health.

LHDs can choose to be added to carriers’ networks, which would significantly expand access to care and health services for those in each community. MACo Legislative Director Natasha Mehu testified in support of SB 858 before the Senate Finance Committee on February 28, 2018.

From MACo Testimony:

LHDs are the state’s frontline for public health services and education in each of Maryland’s 24 jurisdictions. These departments not only administer and enforce state and local health laws and regulations, but many also provide a range of direct services including preventative care, immunizations, mental health and substance use counseling, and communicable disease prevention.

SB 858 would require insurance carriers to offer insurance contracts to LHDs for the delivery of covered treatment services including behavioral health care services. LHDs could elect to be added to the carriers’ networks expanding the range of patients that are able to access treatment services from the departments. Currently, only some insurance carriers either contract or have agreements with LHDs and only for a limited selection of services.

SB 858 supports LHDs’ efforts to deliver vital public health services and increases patients’ access to that care.”

Follow MACo’s advocacy efforts during the 2018 legislative session here.