The Maryland Catholic Conference offers this testimony in SUPPORT of House Bill 539 (HB 539). The Catholic Conference represents the public-policy interests of the three (arch)dioceses serving Maryland, the Archdioceses of Baltimore and Washington and the Diocese of Wilmington, which together encompass over one million Marylanders.
HB 539 relates to providing habilitative services to the children of insureds that are covered by insurance, nonprofit health service plans, and health maintenance organizations. Habilitative services and devices are defined as those related to "occupational therapy, physical therapy, and speech therapy that help a child keep, learn, or improve skills and functioning for daily living". The bill extends the required age of coverage from the child’s nineteenth birthday to the end of the month in which they turn nineteen.
The Maryland Catholic Conference supports HB 539 because it intersects with the Church’s obligation to care for those with disabilities. The Church calls for the defense of policies “that enable individuals with disabilities... to achieve the fullest measure of personal development [possible] ”, and foster the creation of a stronger and more integrated support system. Children with disabilities are often the consumers of habilitative services and devices, and HB 539 removes barriers that inhibit adolescents and young adults from receiving habilitative services, by extending coverage to the end of the month in which they turn nineteen. This extension will allow young adults additional time to find alternative means of financially supporting their habilitative services. In the interest of enabling members of the disability community to achieve the fullest measure of personal development possible, the Church supports HB 539.
It is for these reasons that the Maryland Catholic Conference urges a favorable report for HB 539. Thank you for your consideration.