News & Views | September 2021

Wednesday, September 01, 2021 8:21 PM | Anonymous

Judy Gallant, MD Legislation and Advocacy Committee Chair

For those holding MD licenses that need to be renewed by October 31, 2021: The current continuing education requirement for LCSW-Cs is 40 credit units of continuing education in programs and categories approved by the Board for each two-year period of licensure. Licensees must obtain at least 20 of the 40 credits in Category I. Category 1 CEUs can be obtained through virtual programs that are live and interactive at the time they are taken; recorded programs given by approved providers will receive Category II credits. All 40 credit units may be earned in Category I. Of the 40 required credit units, a licensee must obtain 3 credit units in Category I or Category II in a content area focusing on ethics and professional conduct. For those wanting to maintain their status as a Board-approved supervisor, you must take 3 CE credits focusing on supervision.

This report provides information on some bills passed during the 2021 Legislative Session in Annapolis. Please make sure you have reviewed June’s newsletter report to learn about the most important laws affecting LCSW-Cs that passed this session which address telehealth rules; LCSW-Cs being authorized to be a second signature for involuntary admission to a hospital; reducing the age an adolescent may consent to mental health treatment from 16 to 12 years old; implicit bias training that will be required for license renewal; and a reduction in supervision hours required for new LCSW-Cs.

Additional bills which will impact us:

As many of you are aware, Optum took over as the Administrative Service Organization for Maryland Medicaid and there have been significant difficulties with their administration. House Bill 919/Senate Bill 638: Maryland Insurance Commissioner – Specialty Mental Health Services and Payment of Claims – Enforcement subjects Optum to oversight by the Maryland Insurance Administration. The Budget Committees are also requiring quarterly updates from the MD Dept of Health on the functionality of the Behavioral Health Administrative Service Organization to be included in the FY 2022 Operating Budget.

Senate Bill 286.House Bill 108: Behavioral Health Crisis Response Services – Modifications change requirements for grant proposals and for awarding grants under the Behavioral Health Crisis Response Grant program. With these changes, an application must be able to serve all members of the immediate community with cultural competency and appropriate language access, commit to gathering feedback from the community on an ongoing basis, and improving service delivery continually based on this feedback. The applicant must also demonstrate strong partnerships with community services that include family member and consumer advocacy organizations and regional stakeholders, and show a plan linking individuals in crisis to peer support and family support services after stabilization.

House Bill 78/Senate Bill 52: Public Health – Maryland Commission on Health Equity (The Shirley Nathan-Pulliam Health Equity Act of 2021) creates a MD Commission on Health Equity that is charged with developing a “health equity framework” – defined as a public health framework through which policymakers and stakeholders (public and private) use a collaborative approach to improve health outcomes and reduce health inequities in the State by incorporating health considerations into decision making across all sectors and policy areas. The Commission is to assess the impact of a list of factors on the health of residents in evaluating new policies, including access to safe and affordable housing, educational attainment, opportunities for employment, economic stability, access to transportation, food insecurity and social justice.

House Bill 463/Senate Bill 172: Maryland Health Equity Resource Act (passed) establishes a framework for the establishment of Health Equity Resource Communities (HERC) in areas of the State with demonstrated health inequities and disparities. The legislation as enacted is no longer funded by an alcohol tax and the program will be administered by the Community Health Resources Commission (CHRC). The General Assembly allocated $14 million dollars from the Relief Fund legislation to the Commission to administer short term grants related to health equity priorities for two years. During that two-year period, an Advisory Committee is charged with the development of a framework for a permanent HERC program, including the identification of a permanent funding source.

Senate Bill 164/House Bill 605: Veterans – Behavioral Health Services – Mental Health First requires MDH to include mental health first aid among the behavioral health services for which MDH provides service coordination for eligible veterans.

House Bill 872/Senate Bill 550: Sheila E. Hixson Behavioral Health Services Matching Grant Program for Service Members and Veterans – Establishment creates a grant program for Service Members and Veterans administered by MDH. Beginning in FY 2022, the Governor may include an annual appropriation of $2.5 million for the program in the operating budget. The program will award competitive matching grants to local nonprofit organizations to establish and expand community behavioral health programs that serve the behavioral health needs of eligible individuals in the locality served by the nonprofit organization; integrate the delivery of mental health and substance use treatment; and connect eligible individuals to appropriate community-based care in a timely manner on discharge from the community behavioral health program.
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