ANNAPOLIS, MD - Lt. Governor Boyd K. Rutherford today joined state and local leaders to announce new Hogan administration initiatives to expand substance use prevention and treatment efforts, as well as a new executive order to study mental and behavioral health in Maryland, with a special emphasis on the correlation between mental illness and substance use disorders. The lieutenant governor spoke at a press conference hosted at Helping Up Mission in East Baltimore, and was joined by Secretary Bobby Neall of the Maryland Department of Health (MDH), Executive Director Steve Schuh of the Maryland Opioid Operational Command Center (OOCC), and CEO Robert Gehman of Helping Up Mission, as well as numerous other state and local officials and addiction advocates.
“Fighting the ever-changing heroin and opioid epidemic here in Maryland has been a top priority of Governor Hogan and our administration for the last four years,” Lt. Governor Rutherford said. “We have been laser-focused on implementing a holistic, multi-pronged approach to combating this epidemic that includes prevention, treatment, recovery, and enforcement. This epidemic transcends every demographic -- it can, and it does, happen to anyone, no matter one’s race, economic situation, education, or community.”
To date, the Hogan administration has invested over $800 million to address substance use disorders and the ongoing opioid epidemic. Lt. Governor Rutherford announced an increase of $500 million in new funding over Fiscal Year 2019. This includes $247.8 million for the Governor’s Allowance in general funds for substance use disorder services; a $41.8 million, or 20 percent, increase over Fiscal Year 2019 levels. Additionally, the lieutenant governor announced:
$172 million of dedicated funding to existing non-Medicaid substance use disorder and addiction programs;
$66 million over two years in new federal grants to initiate and expand opioid prevention and treatment services;
A third installment of $10 million to fund the activities of the Opioid Operational Command Center -- now housed within the Maryland Emergency Management Agency -- in keeping with Governor Hogan’s five-year, $50 million commitment;
$3 million to establish new and expand existing behavioral health crisis response programs and services for local jurisdictions, in addition to funding for four new residential crisis beds in Somerset County;
$378 million over five years for the design and construction of a Therapeutic Treatment Center in Baltimore City, a specialized facility that will provide mental health and substance use treatment services and care to nonviolent offenders upon entry into the criminal justice system, with the goal of reducing recidivism;
Capital budget funding for recovery residences, including:
$1 million for the Community Mental Health, Addiction, and Development Facilities Grant Program within the Maryland Department of Health; and
$1 million for the Shelter and Transitional Housing Facilities Grant Program within the Department of Housing and Community Development;
Capital budget funding for local treatment and community organizations, including:
$1 million for the Helping Up Mission women’s and children’s facility;
$500,000 for the Frederick County Detox Treatment facility; and
$750,000 for the Harford County Crisis Center.
In addition, Lt. Governor Rutherford announced Executive Order 01.01.2019.02, signed by Governor Hogan, establishing the Commission to Study Mental and Behavioral Health in Maryland. The Commission will be chaired by the lieutenant governor and will include representatives from each branch of state government, representatives from the state departments of Health, Public Safety and Correctional Services, and Human Services, as well as the Maryland State Police, the Maryland Insurance Administration, the Opioid Operational Command Center, and six members of the public with experience related to mental health. The commission will be tasked with studying mental health in Maryland, including access to mental health services and the link between mental health issues and substance use disorders.
“As any addiction expert or advocate can tell you, the likelihood of an individual with a mental health or substance use disorder having a co-occurring condition is high,” Lt. Governor Rutherford said. “Just as there is a stigma attached to substance use disorder, issues related to mental and behavioral health are equally stigmatized, if not more so. It’s time that we have a serious exploration of our mental health delivery system.”
Additionally, Secretary Bobby Neall announced $66 million over two years in State Opioid Response (SOR) grant funding from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to be administered through MDH for prevention, treatment, and recovery efforts. The SOR funding includes monies for naloxone distribution for local health departments and community agencies; expansion of recovery residences across the state; crisis services, including Crisis Walk-In Stabilization Centers, Crisis Beds, and Safe Stations across the state; expansion of screening services, intervention, referral, and treatment services in hospital emergency departments; peer support services; expansion of medically assisted treatment in the criminal justice population; and harm reduction efforts.
Secretary Neall also announced legislation that the administration will introduce this session to allow the state to provide additional funds for eligible capital costs for recovery residences. Currently, the state can only provide up to 50% of capital costs and up to 75% in qualified poverty areas. The legislation would increase the percentage the state may fund to 75% and 90%, respectively. Additionally, it would make identical statutory changes to the Federally Qualified Health Center program.
“It is estimated that nearly one in four Marylanders experience mental health or substance abuse challenges serious enough to require treatment,” said Secretary Neall. “I am pleased with today’s announcement of the Executive Order and the additional resources that the administration is directing towards improving mental health and substance use disorder services in our State.”
Finally, Executive Director Schuh announced $2.5 million in OOCC funding that will be used for additional community and local government prevention and education, enforcement, and treatment and recovery programs across the state.
“It’s going to take an all-hands-on-deck approach and every level of government working together to fight this epidemic and to save the lives of Marylanders,” said Executive Director Schuh. “But it’s here, at the local level, in communities, neighborhoods, and schools, where we are going to have the biggest impact. These additional tools, located in our communities where they need it the most, will help us in our continued fight.”