SB 506 — Maryland Department of Health – Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Services – Needs Assessment Study

Committee: Senate Finance

Position: SUPPORT

The Maryland Catholic Conference (“Conference”) represents the public policy interests of the three Roman Catholic (arch)dioceses serving Maryland: the Archdiocese of Baltimore, the Archdiocese of Washington, and the Diocese of Wilmington.

Senate Bill 506 directs the Department of Health to undertake a study examining mental health, behavioral health, and developmental disabilities in the state, specifically determining current capacities and unmet needs.

The Conference supports legislation that ensures access to quality, affordable, and life-giving health care for all. Mental and behavioral health is integral to the health of the entire person, and services that treat mental health, somatic illnesses, and substance use disorders are imperative to a healthy society. An increasing number of Marylanders are in need of healing and as such, every effort must be made to make services available to all those who are seeking such care. The Conference will support expanding access to health care options for all who need it, regardless of status, as every person has a basic right to adequate health care arising from the Church’s teaching on the sanctity and dignity of human life.

More than one million Marylanders need mental and behavioral healthcare services. Left untreated, these needs can lead to a host of other social problems, including crime, violence, and homelessness. The opioid crisis has dramatically intensified the need for these services in Maryland, and it has affected all jurisdictions in the state, such as difficulties in the delivery of services in rural areas and lack of available providers and beds in suburban and urban settings. Adequate services are needed to protect not only the most vulnerable among us, but also those who may be marginalized by language barriers, lack of health insurance, or those affected by the rising opioid-related crisis.

The Conference appreciates your consideration and, for these reasons, respectfully requests a favorable report on Senate Bill 506.