2016 Session Recap

2016 Legislative Session Final Report

Over 300 bills were reviewed during the 2016 General Assembly that addressed mental health issues.  Not all this legislation directly affected the practice of psychiatry; however, when it did the MPS Legislative Committee provided either written testimony or appeared to testify before the appropriate committees.  This year over 2800 bills were filed and over 800 were passed.  Many bills affect the broader physician community and MPS decided to follow MedChi’s lead. Other actions are as follows:


HB 579/SB 858- Mental Health – Wraparound Services for Children and Youth– Requiring the Governor, for fiscal year 2018, and for each fiscal year thereafter, to include in the budget bill an appropriation to provide specified wraparound services for 300 children or youth with intensive mental health needs.  This was a major bill from the Mental Health Association of Maryland and would have restored cuts to services.

Status: Unfavorable reports and withdrawn in both chambers.


HB 196- Juveniles – Pretrial Detention – Confinement in Juvenile Facilities- Requiring a court exercising criminal jurisdiction in a case involving a child to order the child to be held in a secure juvenile facility pending a criminal trial except under specified circumstances; and requiring the court to state the reasons on the record for a finding that detention in a secure juvenile facility would pose a risk of harm to the child or others.  MPS developed testimony in support of juvenile detention in a juvenile facility as an adult facility creates harm and potential recidivism.

Status: Unfavorable Report by Judiciary


HB 185- State Board of Physicians – Licensed Physicians – Continuing Education Requirements- Prohibiting the State Board of Physicians from establishing a continuing education requirement that every licensed physician complete a specific course or program as a condition to the renewal of a license.  We supported MedChi’s position on this bill.

Status: Passed/Approved by the Governor – Chapter 99


SB 334- Health Insurance – Access to Accurate Provider Directories- Prohibiting a carrier from issuing or delivering a health benefit plan in the State before a provider directory for the health benefit plan is submitted to and approved by the Maryland Insurance Commissioner; requiring a carrier to submit a specified provider directory on a specified basis for review and reapproved by the Commissioner; establishing specified requirements for a specified provider directory; etc.

Status: Bill never moved out of committee. The vehicle for passage on provider directories and network adequacy was HB 1318 (see below).

SB 899/ HB 1217- Maryland Medical Assistance Program – Specialty Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Services – Parity- Requiring the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, on or before June 30, 2017, to adopt regulations to ensure that the Maryland Medical Assistance Program is in compliance with the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008.   Requiring the regulations to include standards regarding treatment limitations for specialty mental health and substance use disorder services that comply with the federal laws and relate to specified items; etc.

Status: Passed


HB 908- Hospitals – Establishment of Substance Use Treatment Programs – Requirements- Requiring specified hospitals to establish a specified substance use treatment program; providing that the purpose of the program is to identify patients in need of substance use treatment and, if appropriate, admit the patient or, if admission is not required, to direct the patient to an outpatient treatment setting; requiring specified hospitals to operate or contract to operate specified substance use treatment units; requiring the program to include a substance use treatment counselor; etc. The MPS submitted the following statement: We strongly support this bill. Substance use disorders are often comorbid with psychiatric disorders and lead to the population of jails with psychiatric patients and ERs with the consequences of substance abuse. Opioid use disorders in particular have led to a crisis of unintentional overdoses. Hospital-based substance use disorder treatment programs would help reduce the burden on the criminal justice system and save lives.

Status: Did not pass. Moved out of Senate after the crossover date and was never taken up by the Rules Committee.


HB 595/SB 497- Behavioral Health Community Providers – Keep the Door Open Act- Requires the Governor’s proposed budget for fiscal 2018 and each year thereafter to include rate adjustments for community providers based on funding provided in the prior year’s legislative appropriation for specified services. The rate adjustment must equal the average annual percentage change in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for the three-year period ending in July of the immediately preceding fiscal year.  Another cornerstone of the Mental Health Association of Maryland.

Status: Did not pass. Moved out of both chambers, but with differing amendments. Senate took no action on SB 497 as amended by the House.


HB 800- Health Insurance – Payments to Noncontracting Specialists and Noncontracting Nonphysician Specialists– Requiring, under specified circumstances, specified insurers, nonprofit health service plans, health maintenance organizations, and dental plan organizations to pay an amount that is at least equal to 140% of the rate paid by the Medicare program, as published by Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, for covered services provided to a member by noncontracting specialists and noncontracting nonphysician specialists when a referral is granted to the member.  This bill was supported as it would increase access to psychiatric care and encourage increased payments for noncontracting specialists.

Status: Unfavorable Report by Health and Government Operations; Withdrawn


HB 1188- Law Enforcement Officers – Entrance-Level and In-Service Training Requirements – Mental Health Issues– Requiring the Police Training Commission to require that specified entrance-level and in-service training conducted by the State and each county and municipal police training school include specified training concerning mental health issues that is developed in consultation with mental health professionals and their professional associations and is conducted by a mental health professional.

Status: Unfavorable Report by Judiciary Committee


HB 1100- School Counseling Program – Counseling Services – Requirements- Requiring a county board of education to require the School Counseling Program in the county to provide counseling services to students during the entire calendar year; requiring the county board, in consultation with specified public schools, to determine student needs for counseling services during a specified period of time and to develop a specified plan; and requiring a county board to submit a specified report to the State Department of Education on or before July 1 each year.  Although the concept behind this bill was to maintain the positive mental health of students by receiving mental health services through the year, the cost may have been prohibitive to individual counties and it would become a mandate on the state budget.

Status: No movement. Died in committee.


HB 682 (SB 551)- Department of Health and Mental Hygiene – Clinical Crisis Walk-In Services and Mobile Crisis Teams – Strategic Plan- Requiring the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, in consultation with specified agencies and specified health providers, to develop a strategic plan for ensuring that specified crisis services and specified teams are available statewide and operating in a specified manner; requiring the Department to submit a specified strategic plan to the Governor and the General Assembly on or before December 1, 2016; etc.

Status: Passed


HB 1318/ SB 929- Health Benefit Plans – Network Access Standards and Provider Network Directories- Requiring specified carriers to maintain or adhere to specified standards that assure that specified enrollees have specified access to specified health care providers and covered services; requiring specified carriers to file with the Maryland Insurance Commissioner a specified plan for review and approval; etc.  Strongly supported by both MedChi and psychiatry.  We hope to have a participant on the Maryland Insurance Administration panel work group.

Status: Passed


HB 802- Health Insurance – Provider Panel Lists- Altering the information about providers on a provider panel that insurance carriers must make available to specified enrollees under specified circumstances; requiring the information provided in printed form to be accurate on the date of publication; requiring the information provided on the Internet to be accurate on the date of initial posting and update; requiring a carrier to demonstrate the accuracy of certain information on request of the Maryland Insurance Commissioner; etc.

Status: Unfavorable Report by Health and Government Operations; Withdrawn




HB 404 (SB 418)- Richard E. Israel and Roger “Pip” Moyer End-of-Life Option Act- Authorizing an individual to request aid in dying by making specified requests; prohibiting another individual from requesting aid in dying on behalf of an individual; requiring a written request for aid in dying to meet specified requirements; establishing requirements for witnesses to a written request for aid in dying; requiring a written request for aid in dying to be in a specified form; requiring an attending physician who receives a written request for aid in dying to make a specified determination; etc.

Status: Withdrawn in the Senate. Never moved out of committee in the House.


HB 15- Harford County – Suspected Overdoses – Reporting Requirement- Requiring specified individuals who treat or are in charge of a hospital that treats an individual in Harford County for a suspected overdose that was caused or shows evidence of having been caused by a Schedule I controlled dangerous substance to notify the county sheriff, county police, or the Department of State Police of the suspected overdose within 48 hours after the individual is treated; requiring that a report of a suspected overdose include specified information;

Status: Although this bill was substantially amended to the satisfaction of MPS and we worked with Del. Szeliga and even withdrew our opposition to the amended bill, it was withdrawn.  Unfavorable Report by Health and Government Operations;


HB 6- Criminal Law – Improper Prescription of Controlled Dangerous Substance Resulting in Death- Prohibiting an authorized provider from prescribing, administering, distributing, or dispensing a controlled dangerous substance to a person if such practice is not in conformity with specified provisions of law and the standards of the authorized provider’s profession relating to controlled dangerous substances and the person’s use or ingestion of the controlled dangerous substance is a contributing cause of the person’s death; establishing penalties of up to 20 years in prison or a fine of up to $100,000 or both; etc.

Status: Unfavorable Report by Judiciary


HB 245 (SB 310)- Child Abuse and Neglect – Failure to Report- Requiring an agency that is participating in a child abuse or neglect investigation and that has substantial grounds to believe that a person has knowingly failed to report child abuse as required under a specified provision of law to file a specified complaint with a specified board, agency, institution, or facility. **Opposed on ground that this should not be passed until the underlying problem of the definition of “child” is addressed.**  We intend to actively work to seek a review of the definition of child.

Status: Passed


HB 944- Criminal Law – Professional Counselors and Therapists – Misconduct (Lynette’s Law)- Prohibiting a specified professional counselor or therapist from engaging in a sexual act, sexual contact, or vaginal intercourse with a person who is receiving counseling from the professional counselor or therapist or has received counseling from the professional counselor or therapist within the 2 years preceding the sexual act, sexual contact, or vaginal intercourse; etc. Offered written and oral testimony against.

Status: Never got a committee vote.


HB 441- Public Health – Assisted Outpatient Treatment and Mobile Crisis Teams– Providing that an application for assisted outpatient treatment may be submitted to a court by specified individuals; authorizing, under specified circumstances, a court to order assisted outpatient treatment for a specified individual; requiring the Maryland Behavioral Health Crisis Response System to include a crisis communication center in each jurisdiction or region to provide mobile crisis teams operating in a specified manner; etc. This bill was withdrawn and mobile crisis teams were addressed under HB682 (see above).

Status: Unfavorable Report by Health and Government Operations; Withdrawn.


HB 1103- Health Care Practitioners – Use of Teletherapy- Authorizing specified health care practitioners to use teletherapy for a specified patient under specified circumstances; establishing specified requirements for the technology a health care practitioner uses for teletherapy; requiring a health care practitioner to make a specified identification and establish a safety protocol that includes specified information before the first teletherapy session; etc.

Status: Unfavorable Report by Health and Government Operations; Withdrawn




HB 437 (SB 537)- Department of Health and Mental Hygiene – Prescription Drug Monitoring Program – Modifications – Requires certain prescribers and all pharmacists to register with the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) by July 1, 2017. Prescribers and pharmacists must also request and assess prescription monitoring data in a specified manner, except under specified circumstances. Prescribers and pharmacists are subject to disciplinary action by the appropriate licensing entity for failure to comply with the bill’s mandatory registration and use requirements. PDMP may review prescription monitoring data for indications of a possible violation of law or a possible breach of professional standards by a prescriber or dispenser. If indicated, PDMP may notify and provide education to the prescriber or dispenser after obtaining certain clinical guidance from the technical advisory committee (TAC). The bill also requires the DHMH to develop and implement an outreach and education plan regarding mandatory registration with PDMP and submit specified reports.

Status: Passed.


SB 482/HB 1184- State Board of Physicians – License Renewal – Grace Periods- Providing that specified licensed physicians and allied health professionals regulated by the State Board of Physicians have 60 days after a license expires in which to renew it retroactively under specified circumstances; providing that, after a specified grace period has ended, specified licenses lapse into a nonrenewal status; etc.

Status:  Unfavorable Report by Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs. Unfavorable/withdrawn by Health and Government Operations.


HB 104- Medical Cannabis – Written Certifications – Certifying Providers- Authorizing specified dentists, podiatrists, nurse midwives, and nurse practitioners, in addition to physicians, to issue written certifications to qualifying patients by substituting the defined term “certifying provider” for “certifying physician” as it relates to laws governing medical cannabis; establishing that specified providers must be in good standing with the regulatory board regulating the licensing and certification of specified providers; providing for a delayed effective date; etc.

Status: Passed


SB 446- Interstate Medical Licensure Compact- Enacting, with specified other member states, the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact to strengthen access to health care by providing a streamlined process allowing physicians to become licensed in multiple states; establishing specified eligibility requirements for physicians; requiring physicians to designate a specified state as the state of principal license; establishing the Interstate Commission to administer the Compact; requiring the Commission to establish a database of specified physicians and applicants; etc.

Status: Unfavorable Report by Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs; Withdrawn


SB 450 (HB 1487)- Health Care Provider Malpractice Insurance – Scope of Coverage- Authorizing the inclusion, in a policy that insures a health care provider against damages due to medical injury arising from providing or failing to provide health care, of coverage for the defense of a health care provider in a specified disciplinary hearing if the cost of the included coverage is itemized in the billing statement, invoice, or declarations page for the policy and reported to the Maryland Insurance Commissioner in a form and manner required by the Commissioner.

Status: Passed