Local Legislator To Introduce Bills on Mental Health, Addictions During the 2020 General Assembly

One will crack down on patient brokering.


Frederick, Md (KM) Frederick County Delegate Karen Lewis Young (D) says she will be introducing legislation during the 2020 General Assembly dealing with mental health and addictions.

One piece of legislation in particular will crack down on patient brokering, where brokers trade a client who has addictions to a treatment program in return for money, perks and other compensation. In some instances, the broker will contact an addiction program or sober home with a prospective patient, and solicit a kickback or commission, or charge a fee in exchange the client’s information. Patient brokers have also been known to say they will pay travel expenses to get potential clients for a treatment center in other communities, or other states.  “They entice them with promises. And when they get there, and it’s not treatment at all. It’s actually flophouses. And they continue their addictions,” says Delegate Young.

She says the bill will address “some of the bad players that have gotten into the treatment industry that are not really treating individuals, but making a lot of money off of scams, and actually setting victims back.

Delegate Young is working on this bill with fellow Delegate Jesse Pippy (R). “This concept came  to me via a parent who was scammed to the tune of $100,000,” she says. “And not only didn’t her child get better, she got  worse.”

Another bill Delegate Young is sponsoring would make sure all patients with mental health issues have access to a hospital bed. “Right now, there’s a very archaic system, and you have to get on the phone if your hospital doesn’t have a bed,” she says.

Delegate Young is also sponsoring a bill to allow psychiatric nurse practitioners the authority to admit patients. “We’ll use FMH {Frederick Memorial Hospital, now Frederick Health Hospital} as an example. They have only one doctor that can do a psychiatric admission And if he’s on vacation or off the evening, they can’t admit a patient,” she says.

Lawmakers will also be grappling with how to pay for the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future, which was passed in April by the General Assembly.It’s a set of proposals to improve public education across Maryland. It requires the state to spend $1-billion on education within a two-year period.

Some legislators have expressed concerns about the cost, which has been estimated at between $2.9-billion to $39-billion. They’re concerned it could lead to increased taxes. But Delegate Young says she doubts that. “I have heard of several revenue ideas before a tax increase would be entertained,” she says.

Those ideas could be fees on services, legalizing recreational marijuana and revenues from gambling.

“There have been a number of surveys asking Marylanders would you be willing to pay a little bit more in order to significantly improve the quality of our education,”: says Young. “And public opinion is strongly in favor.”

The 2020 Maryland General Assembly will convene for its 90-day session on Wednesday, January 8th.


By Kevin McManus