MACo: Providers Should Handle Sensitive Health Care Information, Not Counties

On March 2, 2023, Associate Policy Director Sarah Sample submitted testimony to the House Judiciary Committee in opposition to HB 762 – Criminal Procedure – Child Advocacy Centers – Care Providers.

The Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee is due to consider the bill’s cross-file, SB 503, on March 8.

HB 762 obligates child advocacy centers to follow several new procedures when there is a change in health care providers at the center, including a mandate to notify clients in writing within 48 hours of such a change. Local governments and law enforcement agencies operate these child advocacy centers at present, and though the value in enhanced communication between child advocacy centers and their clientele is without question, counties are simply not the proper entities to carry out the task of handling the sensitive information at issue in HB 762. It would be more appropriate and feasible for the providers themselves to take up the bill’s notification requirements.

From the MACo Testimony:

While clear communication and protections could certainly be helpful for clients receiving services that are linked through one of these centers, counties are simply not the entity that would be able to fulfill the requirements of this bill. Most of these centers do not directly provide services or oversee therapists and medical practitioners. The vast majority have linkage agreements with a private provider for these services and, as a result, do not actually employ or oversee any clinicians. As this is the predominant structure for these centers across Maryland, the notice requirement in HB 762 presents operational concerns for a county’s or law enforcement agency’s ability to practically fulfill the requirements, especially with the short 48-hour timeline established in the bill. The actual providers are not required to report on service changes under HB 762, but they are the entities in the direct position to do so, if there is a public interest in ensuring such a process.

More on MACo’s Advocacy:

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