News, Statements, and Testimony on Health Equity Issues
25th Council session information coming soon.
What to Know About the 988 Mental Health Hotline
The 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline launched nationally this week as a new resource to help those in distress.
Created by federal law, the 988 number is an option for people experiencing a mental health crisis to receive help via phone call or text. The number connects to trained mental health professionals and is modeled after 911 for physical emergencies. With the new three-digit emergency number, people with behavioral health crises can reach experienced professionals and not rely on 911.
As medical professionals in the behavioral health space can attest, too often behavioral health crises are handled like physical health crises. That means people in need may be sent to emergency rooms or correctional facilities which cannot immediately address the behavioral health need.
The three-digit number will work in tandem with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline's current ten-digit number (), and calls to that number will be routed to 988. If the main 988 call center becomes inundated with calls, 16 backup facilities have been contracted to handle calls and texts.
Sample of Health Equity Legislation MSDC Tracked
What does it say? The bill allows for the administration of medicinal marijuana in schools as well as allows students to bring sunscreen to schools and apply it without a prescription.
MSDC position: MSDC supports the language permitting sunscreen application in schools
Current status: A win for DC physicians and public health! The legislation passed the Council in February and was signed by the Mayor. Previous temporary and emergency legislation permitted students to use sunscreen at schools this school year already.
What does it say? The bill requires DC Health to establish an electronic Medical Order for Scope of Treatment registry (eMOST).
MSDC position: MSDC supports this legislation to more easily allow patients to make their treatment orders known.
Current status: A win for the physician community and our patients! The Council passed the bill in December and the Mayor signed it into law on January 16, 2020.
What does it say? The bill would implement a 1.5 cent per ounce tax on the distribution of "sugary" beverages. The money collected from the tax would establish a Healthy People, Healthy Places Open Spaces Grant Program.
MSDC position: MSDC sent a letter to Council Chair Mendelson asking for a hearing to discuss all of the issues around a beverage tax.
Current status: The bill was introduced October 8, 2019 and referred to the Committee on Business and Economic Development and the Committee of the Whole.