One picture is worth a thousand words. That said, check out our Facebook page for a picture of families in Annapolis rallying in support of children's mental health services: http://www.facebook.com/pages/MCF-Maryland-Coalition-of-Families/150645141660646?sk=wall
- Jane A. Walker
As the 2011 General Assembly session moves into full swing, there are multiple pieces of legislation of interest to families caring for a child with mental health needs. Sit down, make a cup of tea (or pour a soft drink) and look over the bills summarized below. If there is a bill that would make your child's life better, take a moment and communicate that message to your legislator. To find your legislator, go to http://mdelect.net/electedofficials. Your voice is powerful in Annapolis!
House Bill 38: Nonpublic Schools Accepting State Funds – Bullying, Harassment and Intimidation – Policies
Sponsor: Delegate Waldstreicher
Requires nonpublic schools that accept state funds to adopt a policy prohibiting bullying, harassment and intimidation
Committee Assignment: Ways and Means
Hearing Date: None assigned
House Bill 97: Behavioral Health – Integration of Mental Health and Addiction Treatment Services
Sponsor: Delegate Eckardt
Requires the development of a plan to integrate the provision of mental health and addiction treatment services and to convene a workgroup
Committee Assignment: Health and Government Operations
Hearing Date: Feb. 2
House Bill 104: Higher Education – Community Colleges – Tuition Waiver for Disabled Individuals
Sponsor: Chair, Ways and Means Committee (By request – Departmental – Disabilities)
Clarifies and amends the requirements for obtaining an exemption from the payment of tuition at community colleges for individuals with disabilities
Committee Assignment: Ways and Means
Hearing Date: Feb. 17
House Bill 121/Senate Bill 168: The Lorraine Sheehan Health and Community Services Act of 2011
Sponsor: Delegate Hubbard/Senator Jones-Rodwell
Increases Maryland 's tax on alcohol. Specifies that revenue from the tax be used for mental health, substance abuse and developmental disability services, and to expand health care
Committee Assignments: House: Ways and Means; Health and Government Operations
Senate: Budget and Taxation; Finance
Hearing Date: None assigned (See more on this measure below.)
Senate Bill 41: Education – Age for Compulsory Public School Attendance
Sponsor: Senator Pugh
Altering the age at which children are required to attend a public school regularly during the entire school year, from age 16 to 17, subject to specified exceptions
Committee Assignments: Education, Health and Environmental Affairs
Hearing Date: Feb. 9
Health Care Reform Bills
Over the past year Maryland 's Health Care Reform Coordinating Council has worked on how best to implement the federal Affordable Care Act in the state. The council's work formed the basis for three pieces of legislation introduced thus far in this session:
House Bill 165/Senate Bill 175: Health Quality and Cost Council – This bill would establish the Health Care Reform Coordinating Council in law and expand the state's successful effort to bring public agencies and the private sector together to improve the quality and reduce the cost of health care.
House Bill 166/Senate Bill 182: Health Benefit Exchanges – This bill would establish a structure and framework to develop the insurance exchanges required by the Affordable Care Act. The exchanges will help individuals and small businesses buy and afford coverage by offering different insurance plans and providing federal subsidies for their purchase.
House Bill 170/Senate Bill 183: Insurance Market Reform – This bill would align Maryland law with the consumer protections in the federal Affordable Care Act. For example, in addition to making pre-existing condition exclusions illegal, the new rules will help 3.6 million Marylanders who have insurance by barring lifetime limits on their benefits and reducing their risk of losing that insurance when they become sick. It also will help them stay healthier by requiring insurance companies to cover certain preventive services like mammograms and flu shots. Young people also will be able to stay on their parents' policies until they turn 26.
All of the above legislation was scheduled to be heard in the House of Delegates Health and Government Operations Committee on Feb. 15 and in the Senate Finance Committee on Feb. 16.
"Dime a Drink" Returns
The Lorraine Sheehan Health & Community Services Act of 2011 (HB 121/SB 168) is up for consideration again during this legislative session. The measure, sometimes known as the "dime-a-drink" bill, first was introduced last year.
The act seeks to increase state tax rates for alcoholic beverages sold in Maryland, with the additional revenue to be distributed to the Developmental Disability Support Fund, the Additional Treatment and Prevention Fund, the Mental Health Care Fund and the Maryland Medicaid Trust Fund.
Proponents of the measure note HB 121/SB 168 would:
- Save $249 million annually in health care costs;
- Avert 15,000 cases of alcohol abuse, 316 assaults, 67 incidents of severe violence against children and 37 premature deaths each year;
- Create and preserve jobs in crucial sectors of health care and other state services; and
- Reduce drinking among young people and heavy drinkers.
Maryland 's current alcohol taxes are less than a penny a drink for beer, and less than two cents a drink for wine and spirits; the spirits excise tax last was raised in 1955, and the beer and wine excise taxes last were raised in 1972. The state's taxes are among the lowest in the nation.
MCF is part of a vast coalition supporting the act. We will keep you informed on the legislation's progress through the state House of Delegates and state Senate. Check out a video of the rally held in Annapolis in support of the "10 Cents Makes Sense!" rally: www.abc2news.com/dpp/news/political/advocates-rally-for-dime-a-drink-tax
RA1SE Lends a Helping Hand
Teens and young adults who develop schizophrenia may experience problems with hearing voices, paranoid or unusual thoughts, disorganized speech and behavior, as well as a significant decline in performance at school or work. Comprehensive, early intervention for this type of mental illness is important because it may be when problems are most responsive to treatment. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) is funding the Recovery After an Initial Schizophrenia Episode (RA1SE) Connection Program to determine the best early interventions and treatments for individuals experiencing early psychosis.
The RA1SE Connection program is a research study that compares two early treatment interventions for adolescents and young adults who have experienced the onset of psychosis within the last two years. This study is being conducted in New York and Maryland. In Maryland, there are study sites on the Towson campus of Sheppard Pratt and at the Carruthers Clinic of the University of Maryland Community Psychiatry Program in Baltimore. A site will be opening shortly in Gaithersburg, Md. Both treatments assist the teen and family in obtaining needed services and emphasize joint decision making between consumers and providers.
The study will closely monitor how each adolescent or young adult is functioning socially and academically. Services are provided over a two-year period. From this study, we hope to learn whether treatments delivered in the earliest phases of illness can prevent disability among individuals with psychosis.
Your teenage or young adult family member may be eligible for the study if they are at least 15 years old and have had the onset of psychosis within two years. Information about the RA1SE connection program is available at 888-864-5458 or by visiting www.connectionprogram.org.
Newsletter for LGBT Youth
The National Workgroup to Address the Needs of Children and Youth Who Are Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning, Intersex, or 2-Spirit (LGBTQI2-S) and Their Families of the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has published its first newsletter.
Planned as a quarterly publication, the newsletter will offer information and resources on the group's work to support and enhance services for these children and youth. Click here to learn more about the LGBTQI2-S cultural learning community within SAMHSA and get connected within the community.
Youth M.O.V.E National Youth Advocacy Training Webinar Series—Web-based training for youth who have experience in foster care, juvenile justice and/or mental health systems to learn to tell their stories in a way that changes policy and improves outcomes for children, youth and young adults. Topics include legislation, policy, public speaking and strategies for creating change. Free; registration is required. Click here to register. For more information, contact Eric Lulow at 240.403.1901 or firstname.lastname@example.org .
Estate Planning for Special Needs for Your Loved One with a Disability—Feb. 22, 6:30–8:30 p.m. Free workshop covers such topics as wills and living trusts; finding the proper attorney, government benefit programs; special needs trusts; self-determination and self-advocacy guardianship and conservatorship; letters of intent; and a lifetime of meaningful supports. Abilities Network, 8503 LaSalle Road, Towson. RSVP by Feb. 17 to Sarah Pinsker at 410.828.7700 ext. 1259. Snow date is March 16.
Personality Disorders Series: Cluster A: Paranoid, Schizoid and Schizotypal—Feb. 25, 8:30–11:45 a.m. Part One of a three-part series on personality disorders provides an overview, in-depth look and interventions, treatment strategies and a case study review. CEUs available; $39. Brook Lane Health Services Campus, Community Room, 13218 Brook Lane Drive, Hagerstown. Complete registration form and submit to Cashier, Brook Lane, P.O. Box 1945, Hagerstown, MD 21742 or fax to 301.733.4038. For more information, contact Debbie Staley at 301.733.0331, ext. 189.
Summer Opportunities Fair for Exceptional Children—Feb. 27, 1–3:30 p.m. Representatives from sleepaway and local summer camps provide information on various opportunities for mainstream and special education schoolchildren with a broad array of challenges, such as learning disorders, ADD/ADHD, autism, PDD/NOS, mild social and emotional disorders and cognitive disabilities. Free. The Ivymount School, 11614 Seven Locks Road, Potomac. Contact Meg Smith at 703.345.0722 or email@example.com or Carey Rivers at 202.337.3451 or firstname.lastname@example.org .
Cyber Safety Webinar—March TBA, 12 noon–1 p.m. Check www.mdcoalition.org for more information on this webinar, or contact Carol at email@example.com or 1.888.607.3637 or 410.730.8331.
Personality Disorders Series: Cluster B: Borderline, Antisocial, Histrionic and Narcissistic—March 25, 8:30–11:45 a.m. Part Two of a three-part series on personality disorders provides an overview, in-depth look and interventions, treatment strategies and a case study review. CEUs available; $39. Brook Lane Health Services Campus, Community Room, 13218 Brook Lane Drive, Hagerstown. Complete registration form and submit to Cashier, Brook Lane, P.O. Box 1945, Hagerstown, MD 21742 or fax to 301.733.4038. For more information, contact Debbie Staley at 301.733.0331, ext. 189.
7th Annual Child and Adolescent Mental Health Conference—March 29, 8 a.m.–4 p.m. Conference seeks to integrate clinical interventions within a public health approach. $55; CEUs and COAs available. Martin's West, 6817 Dogwood Road, Baltimore. For more information, contact Joan Smith, Mental Hygiene Administration, at 410.221.2529.