Counties Encourage Statewide Opioid Needs Assessment

On February 20th, MACo Legislative Director Natasha Mehu submitted testimony in support of SB 506 Maryland Department of Health – Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Services – Needs Assessment Study.

This bill would work to advance important and necessary assessments in behavioral health that are needed across the state of Maryland.

From the MACo Testimony:

SB 506 requires MDH to perform a comprehensive statewide study to determine the existing capacity and estimated unmet needs for mental health and substance use disorder services. The study requires that data be looked at regionally to give a more local insight.

The deadliness of the opioids that have permeated our communities makes it even more critical that treatment services – beds, facilities, providers – are available to meet residents’ needs on-demand. Before we can meet those needs, we must first determine where resources are most needed and to what extent. There is high comorbidity between substance use disorders and mental illness, which means that discovering how best to treat residents with a wide spectrum of needs is crucial and complicated. SB 506 will help provide the answers needed to continue fighting the opioid epidemic.

While counties understand there are costs to performing such an extensive needs assessment, we strongly encourage that any of the designated funds not used for the study itself be allocated to meet treatment needs in already-recognized areas.

For more on 2019 MACo legislation, visit the Legislative Database.