New Laws of Interest to MPS Members Taking Effect October 1st

Mental and Emotional Disorders – Consent

Senate Bill 41/House Bill 132, reintroduced by Senator Malcolm Augustine (D – Prince George’s County) and Delegate Heather Bagnall (D – Anne Arundel County), establishes that a minor who is at least age 12 and is determined by a health care provider to be mature and capable of giving informed consent, has the same capacity as an adult to consent to consultation, diagnosis, and treatment of a mental or emotional disorder by the health care provider or a clinic. A minor younger than age 16, however, may not consent to the use of prescription medications to treat a mental or emotional disorder. Supporters of the bill argued that this is sound public policy that allows young people to seek help from trained professionals before they reach a point of crisis. Opponents to the legislation pointed out that almost every effective strategy at treating younger children with mental illness benefits from the involvement of the parent or guardian. Parent or guardian involvement undisputedly increases the effectiveness of most therapies and some interventions require such participation to even occur.


Involuntary Admission Application – LCWS

Senate Bill 466/House Bill 689: Certificates for Involuntary Admission – Licensed Certified Social Worker – Authorizes a licensed certified social worker-clinical (LCSW-C) or a licensed clinical professional counselor (LCPC), in conjunction with a physician, to (1) certify an individual for involuntary admission to a facility or a Veterans’ Administration (VA) hospital and (2) assent to the voluntary admission of a minor to the child or adolescent unit of a State facility.  Currently, both psychologists and psychiatric nurse practitioners are able to sign such certificates so long as they are joined by a licensed physician. This bill will add the highest level of professional social workers to the list of people authorized to join with doctors in signing such a certificate.


Public Health – Implicit Bias Training and the Office of Minority Health and Health Disparities

Senate Bill 5/House Bill 28 requires the Office of Minority Health and Health Disparities (“Office”) to collaborate with MHCC and professional licensing boards to publish the annual “Health Care Disparities Policy Report Card”, which is to include data on the ethnic and racial composition of the health care provider community. It also requires the professional licensing boards to include in their licensing applications a request for information on race and ethnicity and the boards are required to urge the professionals they oversee to provide the information. By January 1, 2022, the Office, in coordination with MHCC and MDH, will establish and implement a plan for improving the collection of health data that includes race and ethnicity information; ensure that the Office has access to up-to-date health data that includes race and ethnicity information; and to the extent authorized under federal and State privacy laws, post health data that includes race and ethnicity information on the Office’s website.


Public Health – Medical Records – Fees

House Bill 849 – Changes the current law governing fees that may be charged to patients or their representatives seeking copies of medical records. It prohibits a fee being charged if the record will be used for the purpose of filing a claim or appeal regarding denial of social security disability income or social security benefits under the Social Security Act.


Veterans – Behavioral Health Services

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