BILLING QUESTIONS PLAGUE MENTAL HEALTH CARE PROVIDERS: Behavioral health providers, who offered mental health services and substance use treatment during the pandemic, are locked in a dispute with the Maryland Department of Health over how many millions of dollars the providers must pay back to the state, reports Capital News Service’s Trisha Ahmed in MarylandReporter.com. The problems began after a new billing management company engaged by the state — touted as a money-saving move — took over reimbursements for behavioral health providers early last year.
ELRICH SEEKS GREATER EQUITY IN PEDIATRIC VAXX DISTRIBUTION: Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich Wednesday emphasized the need for greater equity in the distribution and administration of pediatric COVID-19 vaccines, Bryan Renbaum reports for Maryland Reporter. “We have vaccinated about 20,000 children since the beginning of eligibility for this group. We are only one-sixth of the state’s total population. But we have a way disproportionate share of the pediatric vaccines that have been distributed in the state,” Elrich said at a virtual news conference.
- Montgomery officials called on state health officials to clear the way for expanded access to boosters and additional vaccine doses for children, writes Bryan Sears for the Daily Record. The state and its most populous county are seeing sustained growth in COVID-19 cases prior to the Thanksgiving holiday.
LAW FIRM THAT WON HBCU-STATE SETTLEMENT TO DONATE FEES: The law firm that represented Maryland’s historically Black universities in a long-running lawsuit against the state is donating $12.5 million to colleges and nonprofits from the fees it was awarded when the case settled, Pamela Wood of the Sun reports.
DEL. PARROTT TO RUN AGAIN FOR U.S. HOUSE: Del. Neil Parrott, R-Washington, said Wednesday he’s “all-in” for his second run at the U.S. House seat from the 6th Congressional District in 2022, putting his Maryland House of Delegates seat up for grabs, Julie Greene reports for the Hagerstown Herald-Mail.
- With a win in the state’s upcoming June 28 primary election, the Washington County Republican would likely challenge U.S. Rep. David Trone, the Democratic incumbent, in the general election, a rematch from 2020, Greg Larry reports for the Cumberland Times-News.
CLIMATE VOTERS GUIDE: RUSHERN BAKER: Rushern L. Baker III, the former Prince George’s County executive and Democratic candidate for governor, says Marion Barry, the controversial D.C. Mayor, had the foresight to move several D.C. government offices to U Street Northwest, just a couple of blocks from a Metro station, just as the Green Line was opening. It meant city residents could access services and public workers could get to their jobs by public transit — and kept a certain number of cars off the road, Josh Kurtz writes for Maryland Matters.
STATE HOPES TO CLOSE 4 JUVENILE FACILITIES: The Maryland Department of Juvenile Services wants to close four juvenile facilities and expand capacity at one in Prince George’s County as part of a plan to move state-detained youths closer to home, Phil Davis reports for the Sun.
MSBE WEIGHS LIFTING MASK MANDATE: As the youngest students begin to get vaccinated, Maryland education officials are rethinking the state’s mask mandate for schools and how long it needs to stay in place, reports Donna St. George for the Post. Parents, teachers, students, school board leaders and public health experts weighed in at a Tuesday hearing that stretched 4.5 hours, setting the stage for a decision at the December meeting of the Maryland State Board of Education.
CARROLL ED BOARD, HEALTH OFFICER AT ODDS OVER MASK MANDATE: On Tuesday, as Carroll County’s school board president testified in support of lifting the mask mandate in public schools starting in January, the acting county health officer submitted a letter to the Maryland State Board of Education stating why the mandate should remain, Kristen Griffith of the Carroll County Times reports.
UMMS TO END RACE-BASED DIAGNOSTICS FOR KIDNEY FUNCTION: The University of Maryland Medical System and the University of Maryland School of Medicine announced Wednesday that they will stop using the race-based diagnostic equation to estimate kidney function, Ovetta Wiggins of the Post reports. Advocates say the race-based equation in kidney disease is a likely factor in Black patients qualifying for transplantations later than they should.
PG COUNCIL URGES STATE TO OK SPORTS BETTING LICENSE: The Prince George’s County Council is urging the state to grant a sportsbook license to one of the county’s largest employers — the casino at MGM National Harbor — and four other gambling venues, Bruce DePuyt of Maryland Matters reports.
SAVING NATIVE BEES: Although honeybees have captured national attention in an effort to “save the bees,” some Maryland entomologists want to shift the focus toward native bee species that are in graver danger, Shauneen Miranda writes for Capital News Service. The article, appearing in MarylandReporter, also says that bees are the most important pollinators on Earth, critical to populating native plants and fundamental to ensuring the abundance and variety of agricultural crops.
DEL. LEWIS ON LIVING IN B’MORE WITHOUT A CAR, RED LINE: Before being appointed to the General Assembly in 2017, Del. Robbyn Lewis had worked in public health and was an advocate for transit. She spoke with Ian Duncan of the Washington Post about the challenges of living in Baltimore without a car, the perspective it’s brought to her role as a lawmaker and ideas for making streets more welcoming for pedestrians.
B’MORE RESIDENTS LAY OUT HOPES FOR 2022 LEGISLATIVE SESSION: Baltimore residents and local officials told state lawmakers that they want to see legislation improving public transportation, education, public safety and decriminalizing drug use in the city during the next legislative session, which starts in January, Elizabeth Shwe of Maryland Matters reports.
ARUNDEL TEACHERS, BOARD AT IMPASSE: The Teachers Association of Anne Arundel County and the Board of Education will meet with a third-party mediator after the Maryland Public School Labor Relations Board determined that the parties have reached an impasse in negotiating work and pay, Rachael Pacella of the Capital Gazette reports.
WHO’s RUNNING SO FAR FROM FREDERICK COUNTY? Jack Hogan of the Frederick News-Post gives a rundown on who has filed to run for local, state and federal offices from Frederick County, beginning with the county executive’s race.