Feds Award Maryland $39 Million to Fund Fight Against Opioids

Federal funding awarded to Maryland will be used to increase access to medication-assisted treatment and to fund community health centers, academic institutions, and rural organizations that are providing treatment services.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services awarded over $1 billion dollars in opioid crisis funding this week with Maryland receiving $39.1 million of that pie.

The Baltimore Business Journal reports:

The awards, administered by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) come as part of the federal government’s “Five-Point Strategy” for facing the opioid epidemic, which it unveiled last year. The strategy calls for better addiction prevention, treatment and recovery services; better data on addiction and overdoses nationwide; better pain management strategies; better use of overdose reversing drugs like Naloxone; and better research around the overall effects of the epidemic.

Read The Baltimore Business Journal to learn more.

Related coverage from Conduit Street:

Feds to Grant Maryland $10M for Opioid Crisis

24 Hour Crisis Center Could Come to Washington County

Washington County could be home to a 24/7 mental health and substance abuse crisis center if funds from the State come through. The Herald-Mail reports:

Vicki Sterling, director of behavioral health services at the Washington County Health Department, said she informally requested about $2 million annually for two years from the state to run the program.

In addition to the crisis center, Washington County’s request would include enough money to hire two more mobile crisis workers, joining one current employee. It also would allow the county to expand services and hours in assisting local authorities who encounter people with mental health or substance-abuse problems in the field.

The article notes that the center if funded could be up and running by December and would have space for 12-15 people at a time.

For more information read the full article in The Herald-Mail

Related coverage from Conduit Street:

Treatment Center Eyes Location in Washington County

Dr. Leana Wen Resigns from City to Take Helm of Planned Parenthood

Photo Source: Twitter @DrLeanaWen
Dr. Leana Wen (source: Twitter @DrLeanaWen)

Dr. Leana Wen has resigned from her position as Baltimore City Health Commissioner to head the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. 

Wen will replace Cecile Richard who decided to step down from the position earlier this year.

NPR reports:

Wen was an emergency room physician before she transitioned to the world of public health. She will continue to serve as Baltimore’s health commissioner for one month before she departs, according to a statement from the city.

In her new role, Wen will also be the president of Planned Parenthood’s advocacy arm, which lobbies for reproductive health issues, including wider access to abortion.

As reported in The Baltimore Sun, Baltimore City Mayor Catherine Pugh will be immediately launching a national search to find a new health commissioner.

For more information:

Planned Parenthood Chooses Baltimore’s Health Commissioner As Its Next President (NPR)

Baltimore Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen to serve as new head of Planned Parenthood (The Baltimore Sun)

MACo Announces 2019 Legislative Initiatives

MACo to prioritize education, public health, implied preemption, and NG 9-1-1 in 2019 legislative session. 

MACo’s Legislative Committee voted at their September 12, 2018 meeting to adopt the Association’s four priorities for the 2019 Session. These issues — Continuing State Commitment to Education; Re-Prioritizing Public Health; Repeal “Implied” Preemption Doctrine; and Next Generation 9-1-1 Implementation — cover a broad range of important county concerns that MACo will proactively advocate for in front of the General Assembly.

Each year MACo adopts a slate of top legislative initiatives, typically representing the wide swath of services counties deliver to Maryland residents. The Initiatives Subcommittee meets through the summer to refine and focus a list of dozens of proposed initiatives into no more than four as required by the Association’s bylaws. The slate is then presented to the Legislative Committee for adoption. With the upcoming election in November and potential changes in local elected officials serving on the Legislative Committee, the 2019 Legislative Committee will also discuss and vote to approve the initiatives again in January.

Continuing State Commitment to Education

Maryland’s commitment to Pre-K – 12 education must continue to meet the needs of a diverse student body, and to prepare Maryland’s children for a global economy.

The 2016 Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education will recommend major shifts in the relative role of state and local funding in each of Maryland’s twenty-four jurisdictions. At the same time, the 21st Century School Facilities Commission and its legislative outcomes recommended an increased annual State contribution for capital projects, and required ongoing study of school construction project funding and priorities.

MACo advocates for a partnership approach to meeting the education and facility needs of Maryland’s students that fairly balances state responsibilities with local obligations, and seeks equitable and efficient solutions to meet current expenses and future goals. 

Re-prioritizing Public Health

Local Health Departments are the state’s frontline for public health services and education. Over the years, dramatic and lasting funding reductions as well as threatened cost shifts have endangered their capacity to provide these crucial services in our communities and have forced them to do more with dramatically fewer resources.

These cuts have been exacerbated by the opioid epidemic that continues to plague the state. The deadliness of the opioids that have permeated our communities makes it even more critical that local health departments and associated treatment services – beds, facilities, providers – are available to meet our residents’ needs on-demand.

MACo advocates to prioritize public health in the face of the opioid epidemic and crises to come by reviving local health department funding and targeting drug treatment funding to address demand where it is needed most.

Repeal “Implied Preemption” Court Doctrine

Maryland courts have adopted an inconsistent but growing theory of State preemption over local actions – finding that counties may be preempted even without any State law explicitly stating so. This principle was used years ago to invalidate multiple local tobacco regulations, and more recently on local pesticide oversight, and energy facility siting.

Legislation should specify that preemption should not take place in the courts by mere interpretation, but in the open and accessible lawmaking process, where all stakeholders may be heard on the merits of their arguments.

Next Generation 9-1-1 Implementation

It is time for Maryland to move to the Next Generation of 9-1-1 (NG911) service. Maryland’s current 9-1-1 Call Centers need additional support to accurately and expeditiously handle an increasing number of cell phone-based calls for emergency service. In addition, local call centers in Maryland are seeking to offer potential service enhancements for cell phone users, including video and text messaging, and improved location tracking accuracy.

Updating state laws, and the 9-1-1 financing system, to provide the flexibility and resources needed for this important step is a public safety priority affecting every part of Maryland. 


Howard County Council Considers Ban on Coal Tar Sealants on Roads, Driveways

Baltimore Sun article (2018-09-07) reported that the Howard County Council is considering banning the use of coal tar sealants on roadways and driveways. The proposal has drawn opposition from sealant manufacturers and trade groups.

According to the article, coal tar sealants are used to protect asphalt roads and driveways. However, the sealant, which can contain up to 35 percent of carcinogenic coal tar pitch, breaks down over time into a dust that contaminate stormwater, water bodies, and house dust. Several cancers, including skin, bladder, lung, kidney and digestive tract cancers, have been linked to occupational exposure to coal tar according to the National Institutes of Health. The article also noted that coal tar is used medicinally to treat certain skin disorders. The sealant must be reapplied to a road surface every 2-5 years in order to remain effective.

From the article:

Councilman Jon Weinstein introduced legislation to ban coal-tar at a County Council meeting Tuesday night after a group of Centennial Lane Elementary fifth-graders presented their case for a ban to Weinstein, who represents Ellicott City where the school is located, in June.

“These sorts of bans [on coal-tar sealcoat] are solutions to problems that don’t exist,” said Anne LeHuary, executive director of the Pavement Coatings Technology Council. “I would challenge the [Howard] county to look at their data.”

The article noted that coal tar sealant is already banned in Anne Arundel, Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties and the District of Columbia. The Howard County Department of Public Works does not use sealant on county-maintained roads.

A hearing on the legislation (CB60-2018) is set for September 17.

Useful Links

CB60-2018 Information

Frederick County Council Mulls Human Trafficking Bills

A package of bills before the Frederick County Council would provide a three-pronged approach to fighting human trafficking in the county. As reported by The Frederick News-Post:

The bills, which the council discussed Tuesday, would require hotels and motels to conduct human trafficking training for new employees, hold landlords and tenants liable for criminal charges for knowingly allowing human trafficking to occur on property, and regulate “bodyworks” establishments, which are relatively common locations for human trafficking. The bills largely came from the recommendations of the human trafficking task force that convened in 2016.

For more information read the full article in The Frederick News-Post

Related coverage from Conduit Street:

Frederick Announces Efforts to Combat Human Trafficking

Legislation Could Cut “Head off the Snake” of Human Trafficking


DOJ Releases ‘Fentanyl: The Real Deal’ Video

The Office of Justice Programs’ Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) has released a new safety and training video to help protect first responders faced with fentanyl while on the job.

As Homeland Security Today reports:

Fentanyl: The Real Deal provides recommendations to law enforcement on how to navigate safely around the increased prevalence of fentanyl in the illicit drug market. The video provides first responders with unified, scientific, and evidence-based recommendations for protective actions first responders should take when the presence of fentanyl is suspected, when exposure occurs, and when individuals exhibit signs of opioid intoxication.

The video is a companion to safety recommendations released by an interagency working group coordinated by the White House National Security Council. The recommendations address:

  • Actions first responders can take to protect themselves from exposure.
  • Actions first responders can take when exposure occurs.
  • Actions first responders can take when they or their partners exhibit signs of intoxication.

For more information:

WATCH: DOJ Releases New Fentanyl Safety Video for First Responders (Homeland Security Today)

Fentanyl Safety Recommendations for First Responders (Office of National Drug Control Policy)

Local Pharmaceutical Company Acquires Narcan Company

Emergent Biosolutions, a pharmaceutical company based in Gaithersburg with 1,300 employees at 13 locations in Maryland, has acquired Adapt Pharma the maker of Narcan Nasal Spray. The deal was reached at a cost of $735 million in cash and stock. With this purchase the local company plans to expand its product line related to the opioid crisis and addiction.

From The Baltimore Sun:

“The acquisition of Adapt Pharma, and with it the Narcan Nasal Spray, the leading community use emergency treatment for opioid overdose, is directly in line with our mission — to protect and enhance life,” said Emergent CEO Daniel J. Abdun-Nabi in a statement. “Adding this important life-saving product to our portfolio of preparedness solutions allows us to apply our experience gained from two decades of partnering with the U.S. government to safeguard public health against biological and chemical threats to address the devastating increase in deaths due to opioid overdoses, one of the most serious public health threats facing the nation today.”

For more information read The Baltimore Sun

Aetna Brings Opioid Alternatives to the Forefront

Exparel — now covered through Aetna’s dental program as part of their comprehensive opioid crisis efforts — provides a non-addictive, one-time injection pain relief alternative. 

Aetna has launched a DocFind platform for its members to help them find providers that offer opioid alternatives for surgeries. One of those alternatives, Exparel, is now covered in Aetna’s dental program. From Aetna’s news release:

Aetna is the first and only dental carrier to cover EXPAREL for wisdom tooth extractions, a decision stemming from the company’s ongoing commitment and comprehensive strategy to fight the opioid epidemic.

As part of this strategy, Aetna is also making it possible for members to find and search for providers who offer opioid alternatives like EXPAREL by using the DocFind platform.

Visit Aetna to learn more.

Aetna is MACo Gold Corporate Partner.

More info on MACo Corporate Partnerships.

Carroll County Awarded Grants for Anti-Domestic Violence Positions

Carroll County’s Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) and State’s Attorney’s Office (CCSAO) have been awarded federal and state grants for new and existing positions focused on domestic violence.

The Carroll County Times reports that federal grants supports anti-domestic violence efforts through the Violence Against Women’s Act (VAWA):

VAWA grants for $20,000 and $55,453 have been awarded to partially fund one of the records unit technician’s salaries at the Domestic Violence Unit at the Sheriff’s Office and the domestic violence prosecutor at the of the State’s Attorney’s Office’s Special Victims Unit, respectively.

Additional state grants support efforts through the Maryland Criminal Intelligence Network (MCIN):

The grant — which comes from the Governor’s Office of Crime, Control and Prevention — is awarding the offices $291,401 to support an analyst position at the CCSO and both an analyst and prosecutor position at the CCSAO in addition to overtime and equipment.

MCIN, a data-sharing system that connects state-funded initiatives from various counties and cities, was organized to complement Gov. Larry Hogan’s measures against gang-related crimes out of Baltimore City.

For more information read The Carroll County Times.