Maryland joins a growing contingent of states, think tanks, and policy makers potentially looking to overhaul public health services.
The pandemic, opioid crisis, and growing mental health needs across the country have exposed a number of inefficiencies in the status quo approach to public health. During the 2023 Legislative Session, lawmakers in Maryland worked on a handful of bills to refine public health services for residents, but HB 214 – Commission on Public Health, in particular, was framed to consider the broad view of how a new administration should be considering the past and looking to the future of community health services.
A number of appointments will be forthcoming as the commission looks to commence, including three county health officers to represent the diversity of multiple regions across Maryland. Their work lends a unique perspective by servicing the most vulnerable members of a community on a mass scale. While local insights will be necessary to inform the best overall outcomes, the commission, if they choose, will have access to a wealth of new research aimed specifically at a handful of problems that have already risen to the top as major concerns such as workforce depletion, legacy technologies, communication silos, and equity related barriers.
The National Institute of Health, Brookings Institution, and Pew Research, to name a few, have projects underway and hinge on gathering the most recent data and reflections from 2021 through 2023. Brookings dropped an article in February on the ability for governments to address the scope of new challenges and issues as well as those of the future, citing multiple studies and evidence gathered through computational simulations. The Public Health Institute published a roadmap to the future for local health departments. Pew postured on the “New Normal” of 2025 back in the still hazy days of post COVID-19 and has recently doubled down with Mathematica Inc. to assess the data exchange policies and capabilities of all 50 states. This forthcoming report will examine how well current policies and practices support the timely and accurate transfer of data to local governments from health care facilities, laboratories, and providers.
MACo supported HB 214 on the grounds that the commission would include three, rather than two, county health officers, as well as eliminate a handful of redundant interests from the representation in an effort to streamline the work of the group. The commission must issue an interim report by December 1, 2023 and a final report in December of 2024.