Director, Organizational Strategy
There is plenty of change in Rockville and Annapolis this year. Nearly half of the County Council has been replaced with new members, and a new Governor is putting his administration's agenda for health care legislation in place. We at PCC have the unique vantage point of being implementers as well as policy advocates. And while the big change in legislative bodies has the potential to move us closer to the solutions we endorse, we don’t want to lose sight of issues we see that need to be addressed.
There are five areas that we are paying particular attention to. They are:
- Ensuring efforts to expand access to healthcare for all with a robust healthcare delivery system that includes provider reimbursement rates sufficient to meet the costs of delivering high-quality healthcare. While expanding coverage is a step in the right direction, providers need to be compensated to reflect both the increases in the cost of delivering care as well as inflationary pressure. Otherwise, the hospitals, clinics, and specialists will buckle under the added pressure.
- Decriminalizing mental illness by improving consumer assistance for people with mental illness and implementing the “Crisis Now” model, including the construction of a new, 24/7/365 Restoration Center (RC). The State has already provided $12 million for FY23 and pre-authorized State aid of $5 million for FY24. And, while we applaud the State’s efforts to allocate $12 million to a mental health hotline, additional funds should be allocated for more Restoration Centers.
- Developing a Statewide response to the shortage of healthcare workers, one that will not only provide more workers for hospitals and clinics but will also provide the racial, ethnic, cultural, and linguistic diversity that is needed to reflect the communities they serve. To be effective, healthcare workers must be able to communicate in patients’ languages and provide culturally appropriate care.
- Supporting SB 101. It will improve the quality of behavioral health care delivered in primary care settings for Maryland Medicaid recipients by expanding their access to the proven Collaborative Care Model. The model is a validated, patient-centered, evidence-based approach for integrating physical and behavioral health care in primary care settings, which is where most people with mild to moderate behavioral health conditions first seek care.
- And, finally, PCC strongly supports the intent of the Access to Care Act. Improving access to affordable health coverage helps to reduce the costs of healthcare provided in hospital emergency departments by providing a reasonable community-based alternative. In addition to reducing strain on already overwhelmed hospital emergency departments, the economic return on investing in primary and preventive health care for our uninsured neighbors has been impressive. Improving access to care improves residents’ participation in economic life.
As both the County Council and General Assembly sessions progress, we will alert you to the progress regarding the initiatives we’ve outlined as being of primary importance to both Montgomery County residents and all Marylanders. Be alert for our flash messages. There may be a time we ask for your participation in reaching out to our lawmakers.