Maryland legislators want healthcare pilot program to become permanent

Several years ago, Maryland legislators wanted to address their constituents’ mental healthcare needs using patient-centered and data-driven models. Therefore, in 2018, legislators established a Collaborative Care Pilot Program to reach, diagnose, and treat Medicaid patients who have access to primary care but may not have received needed behavioral healthcare.

 

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“One in five Americans have experienced mental health issues in the past year, but only a quarter are reported to have received effective mental healthcare,” MDH Secretary Robert R. Neall said in a statement. “The collaborative care model is an opportunity to get more people into needed care for mental health or substance use disorders. It’s another example of how Maryland’s Medicaid program continues to transform care for our most vulnerable citizens.”

The Collaborative Care Pilot Program requires the Maryland Department of Health to create and implement the Collaborative Care Model in primary care settings in which healthcare services are provided to Medical Assistance Program participants enrolled in HealthChoice. The pilot program allowed three sites to participate, which included an annual budget of $550,000 each year until FY 2023.

The findings and recommendations from the pilot program are going to be reported to the Governor and the General Assembly by November 1st, 2023. However, preliminary findings from 2021 indicate that a majority of patients that have been enrolled in the program for more than 70 days have shown clinically significant improvement. 

Because there was limited enrollment, which was impacted by COVID-19, the preliminary report recommends continuing the pilot program to monitor the outcomes. Consequently, the preliminary report states that there will be a more thorough completed report after the completion of the pilot program, which will assess whether this pilot program achieved its goal.

Prior to the final report, bills are already in motion to repeal and replace the pilot program. On January 11th, 2023, Delegate Heather Bagnall (D – Anne Arundel) and State Senator Malcolm Augustine (D – Prince George) introduced House Bill 48 and Senate Bill 101, respectfully.

HB 48 and SB 101 would implement and provide reimbursement services in accordance with the Collaborative Care Model under the Maryland Medical Assistance Program. Ultimately, HB 48 and SB 101 would extend its initial pilot program, which is set to discontinue on June 30th, 2024, if not acted upon. A hearing is set on January 31st, 2023 for SB 101.