The Howard County Mental Health Authority (HCMHA) is the Core Service Agency (CSA) for Howard County. Core Service Agencies were created by legislation in 1991 (Health-General Article, Sections 10-1201 to 10-1203 of the Annotated Code of Maryland). The law defines a Core Service Agency as the designated county authority, which is responsible for planning, managing, and monitoring publicly funded mental health services. This concept
of local management allows for services to be developed to meet the needs of the local community.
The public mental health system covers individuals who receive medical assistance and, in some cases, the low-income uninsured. In the public mental health system all services need to be pre-authorized in order for the providers of the service to be paid. The only exception to the pre-authorization requirement is emergency services and the Mobile Crisis Team. An agency designated by the state Behavioral Health Administration as the Administrative Services Organization (ASO) authorizes services and pays claims submitted for those services. The individual seeking services, a family member or a provider can contact the ASO, which is Beacon Health Options, at 1-800-888-1965 to request authorization for a specific service. In most cases, it is the provider who contacts the ASO requesting authorization for a service on behalf of the individual.