MPS Signs Onto SB 460 Workgroup Comment Letter

Last month the MPS, along with 16 other organizations, singed onto a letter drafted by The Legal Action Center (LAC) and members of The Maryland Parity Coalition providing comments on the Maryland Insurance Administration’s (MIA) draft proposal for a consumer assistance program. The LAC and The Maryland Parity Coalition developed and advocated for the Consumer Health Access Program (SB 460).

The letter expressed disappointment that the SB 460 Workgroup has not focused on several issues the Coalition asked them to consider in June. Resolution of these issues could have fine-tuned and strengthened the program that passed the Senate and received funding in Governor Hogan’s FY 2023 supplemental budget.

The letter noted appreciation for the MIA’s willingness to present an alternative framework for assisting Marylanders obtain coverage of and access to mental health and substance use disorder services through public and private insurance. While the MIA’s framework would adopt several CHAP features, its structure cannot achieve CHAP’s fundamental vision and operation. That vision is a fully independent, consumer-centric program that implements best practices for education and outreach, individual client assistance and representation, and systemic reform. The MIA’s apparent goal is to retain at its core the state’s existing consumer assistance services of the MIA, Maryland Health Benefit Exchange and HEAU. Each of these entities plays an important role in the state’s health insurance education, enrollment and appeal processes and would continue to do so, under SB 460. Yet together they do not constitute a “consumer assistance program” that is equipped to promptly address the barriers that individuals with MH and SUDs face. Even with enhanced resources, reliance on a government agency-focused model will not do enough to help individuals and their families receive non-stigmatizing assistance and achieve their singular goal of identifying and accessing MH and SUD services as quickly as possible via insurance. Nor will it serve the broader goal of having an independent entity perform the sentinel function of identifying and resolving system-wide barriers. For these reasons, The Coalition’s letter did not support the MIA’s current proposal and noted they would oppose a bill that puts forth this model.

The letter continued to outline additional recommendations and comments. Click here to read the letter in its entirety.