FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 22, 2023
Silver Spring, MD — The Fiscal Year 2023 Omnibus Appropriations Bill signed by President Biden recently secures $900,000 for Easterseals DC MD VA to launch a new community behavioral health clinic serving Prince George’s County, Maryland. The clinic will provide mental health services to underserved populations, including the uninsured and underinsured, low-income families, seniors, and people with disabilities.
Mental health-related concerns are the second most pressing health concern among Prince George’s County residents, according to a 2019 Community Health Assessment. Prevention and early detection of behavioral health issues are frequently cited as a priority in the county, along with the need for culturally and linguistically appropriate care. Of the county’s residents, 64% are Black/African American and 20% are Hispanic/Latino, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Residents also face greater issues accessing mental health services because of a shortage in providers. The Prince George’s County’s 550:1 ratio of residents to mental healthcare providers is higher than the State of Maryland’s 330:1 ratio, according to a 2022 Community Health Assessment. Compared to 2019, more county residents – 42% – indicated their community could not access a mental health provider.
“For the past two years, Easterseals has been working on ways to fill the mental health desert in Prince George’s County. Identifying and then meeting such needs is how our nonprofit fulfills its mission to enrich lives for people of all backgrounds,” says Larry Bram, Senior Vice President of Innovation & Program Development at Easterseals DC MD VA. “We are extremely grateful to Senators Cardin and Van Hollen for moving our plans for the new behavioral health clinic forward.”
Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) have advocated in Congress for this Easterseals mental health clinic serving the Maryland community. A request for a congressionally directed spending earmark of $900,000 to Easterseals DC MD VA was included in the Senate Appropriations Committee budget. The FY23 Omnibus Appropriations Bill passed in the Senate and House before President Biden signed it into law on December 29, 2022.
“Maryland needs a strong, state-wide network of mental and behavioral health service providers to ensure all residents can access the support they need to lead healthy lives. This direct federal investment for Easterseals is critical to providing more comprehensive healthcare to all Marylanders, regardless of their age, income, disability,
or health insurance status,” said U.S. Senator Ben Cardin. “I will continue fighting to invest in the mental and behavioral health resources necessary to ensure that no Marylander falls through the cracks.”
Easterseals DC MD VA is one of three Easterseals affiliates around the country selected by the Senate’s Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Appropriations. The bill makes significant investments in communities, critical programs for middle-class families, care for veterans, and national security. The Senate Appropriations Committee for this year’s budget includes Senator Van Hollen on its bipartisan committee. Additional funding is still needed to open the clinic. Easterseals DC MD VA is continuing fundraising efforts to bring the clinic to fruition.
The community behavioral health clinic will be modeled after the Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic (Cohen Clinic) at Easterseals DC MD VA. Since its inception in 2017, the Cohen Clinic has served over 2,000 clients with more than 35,000 hours of therapy. The new community clinic will provide Prince George’s County residents with evidence-based, trauma-informed behavioral health services to treat a variety of mental health issues. Easterseals plans to accept Medicare and Medicaid. No one will be turned away due to an inability to pay.
Easterseals DC MD VA – Easterseals is leading the way to full equity, inclusion, and access through direct and life-changing disability and community services. Since 1945, Easterseals DC MD VA has worked tirelessly to enhance quality of life and expand access to healthcare, education, and employment opportunities. And we won’t rest until each one of us is valued, respected, and accepted. Join us: www.eseal.org.
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