Maryland’s health care delivery system consists of public and private hospitals, nursing homes, outpatient clinics, home health care services, hospices, providers, and health educators, among others. As a public health department, our goal is to improve the health status of every Maryland resident and to ensure access to quality health care. We are responsible for helping each person live a life free from the threat of communicable diseases, tainted foods, and dangerous products. To assist in our mission, we regulate health care providers, facilities, and organizations, and manage direct services to patients, where appropriate.
Although public health activities such as registration of births, deaths and marriages began in Maryland in the mid-1600s, the formal public health effort did not begin until 1797 when Baltimore Town was incorporated into Baltimore City. At that time, health ordinances were passed and, by the early 1800s, smallpox vaccinations were available to the poor, free of charge.
Numerous changes have occurred in Maryland since that time, and all have helped public health evolve into a system that today provides an impressive array of services.
MDH has four major divisions - Public Health Services, Behavioral Health, Developmental Disabilities, and Health Care Financing. In addition, the department has 20 boards that license and regulate health care professionals; and various commissions that issue grants, and research and make recommendations on issues that affect Maryland’s health care delivery system. We depend on a staff of more than 6,500 and a budget of more than $12 billion to provide needed services to Maryland communities.
Our Public Health Services Division oversees vital public services to Maryland residents including infectious disease and environmental health concerns, family health services and emergency preparedness and response activities. The Behavioral Health Division promotes recovery, resiliency, health, and wellness for individuals who have emotional, substance use, addictive and/or psychiatric disorders. The Developmental Disabilities Administration provides a coordinated service delivery system to ensure appropriate services for individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities. The Health Care Financing Division implements the Medicaid program, which features the department’s HealthChoice and Children’s Health Program along with other initiatives, including those that help people with the cost of prescription medications. Information about our organization, programs and many other services can be found on this website.