Bills to Require MAT in Jails on the Move

drugs and needleBills to expand medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for opioid use disorders within county jails are on the move.

HB 116, sponsored by Delegate Erek Barron, has already been passed out of the House and is awaiting a hearing in the Senate. And its crossfile, SB 846 sponsored by Senator Chris West, has passed second reader in the Senate and expected to continue its process over to the House in the next few days.

HB 116/SB 846 would create a statewide system for providing medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for opioid use disorders in local jails. It would require at least one of each FDA approved treatment drugs. Specifically at least one full opioid agonist (e.g. methadone), one partial agonist (e.g. buprenorphine), and one long-acting antagonist (e.g. naltrexone). No local jail currently offers the full scope of these MAT services.

Both bills were amended identically to phase in the requirements of the bill beginning with four counties — Howard, Montgomery, Prince George’s and St. Mary’s — and adding in additional counties in successive years. Importantly, the bills require the State to fund the opioid use disorder screening, evaluation, and treatment for inmates in the local jails. As raised during committee and floor discussions, the amendments to the bills reduce the fiscal notes significantly from tens of millions of dollars to a couple of million dollars. It is anticipated that federal funds granted to the state to fight the opioid crisis would be used to cover or offset those costs.

MACo supported the bills as an important piece of addressing the opioid crisis. The bills support the goals of ensuring that individuals who are receiving medication-assisted treatment for their opioid use disorder continue to receive that treatment once incarcerated. And that those who are medically assessed upon incarceration as having an opioid use disorder and who qualify for medication-assisted treatment have the opportunity to receive that treatment while incarcerated.

Related Coverage from Conduit Street:

Counties Support Creation of Statewide System for Medication-Assisted Treatment

Marshall Project: How the ADA Could Change the Way the Nation’s Jails and Prisons Treat Addiction