SB765 / HB772: Maryland Medical Assistance Program –Services Provided by Certified Peer Recovery Specialists
Currently, there are upwards of fifteen incorporated non-profit organizations throughout Maryland that were founded and are currently operated by individuals with lived experience in providing solutions to the ‘opioid epidemic’. Among the services they currently provide are ‘peer recovery services’. These Peer Recovery Specialists are either individuals who have survived and recovered from a substance use disorder themselves, or parents (caregivers) who have supported an adolescent or young adult child struggling to recover from their disorder.
They provide services to those desperate for solutions –to those caught in the grips of their own disorder, or their parent caregivers who are assisting them with accessing help. The services they provide include: 1) educating those who are impacted about aspects of addiction based on scientifically valid information; 2) assisting individuals seeking treatment and recovery services in accessing these services; 3) facilitating family peer support and bereavement groups; 4) providing one-to-one peer coaching; 5) serving as diversion advocates in the courtroom –assisting judges and legal counsel in creating treatment plans as an alternative to incarceration; 6) providing impacted individuals and their family members with Naloxone; 7) linking individuals without funding for treatment and recovery services with private scholarships and public grant funding; and 8) providing evidence-based training and mentoring to other peer specialists. These organizations are often providing higher deliverables at a lower cost than other service providers or government programs.
Some of these incorporated Maryland business owners have been operating for more than a decade on the efforts of volunteers often working the equivalent of a full-time job, or with very limited funding derived from small grants and private donations, despite the fact that they are a valuable and very visible resource within their community. In order to sustain and maintain the life-saving services they provide to those struggling with an often fatal disorder, their services must be fairly compensated.
THE SOLUTION –INCLUDES BILL AMENDMENTS
Peer Recovery Specialists providing vital and often life-saving services to individuals with a substance use disorder and their families, should be able to be reimbursed through the Maryland Medical Assistance Program. However, the current legislation fails to address several important issues:1) The services which would be reimbursable are not specified, and we suggest that these should minimally include educating the individual and/or family caregiver, assisting the individual in accessing treatment and recovery services, providing individual coaching, justice system diversion and/or courtroom advocacy, and Naloxone training.
3) In order to ensure that these two provisions are adequately addressed, this bill should make provision for a work group to be convened, which includes all current Maryland business owners who have legitimate incorporated businesses that currently provide peer support services.
THE SPONSORS: Senator James Mathias / Delegate Antonio Hayes
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