February 23, 2018
Legislative Session Hits Its Midpoint
This week marks the midpoint of the 90-day 2018 General Assembly legislative session. A flurry of legislation has come to Annapolis, including items related to hospitals' top three priorities : the hospital "sick" tax, behavioral health, and medical liability.
Gov. Hogan has included the agreed-upon $25 million spend-down of the hospital sick tax in his proposed budget, a measure that will help reduce the financial burden on hospital patients. MHA is working closely with the House and Senate to protect the governor's reduction and look for opportunities to increase that amount. If the $25 million remains, the sick tax would be reduced for the coming fiscal year to $339 million.
Several bills have been proposed to enhance Maryland's behavioral health care delivery system. MHA has been drawing from the recommendations in our Roadmap to an Essential, Comprehensive System of Behavioral Health Care for Marylanders to support legislation that will help hospitals ensure that patients with mental health and substance use disorders get the care they need. This includes measures like increasing reimbursement for the community-based behavioral health workforce and expanding crisis services.
On medical liability, MHA has testified in opposition to proposals that would raise the cap on non-economic damages, weaken the standard used for punitive damages, and alter the standard of contributory negligence. The Senate hearing on the No-Fault Birth Injury Fund was held Wednesday and support grows each year. Our efforts to draw attention to this proposal have generated bipartisan Senate support, with 13 co-sponsors, in addition to bipartisan support in the House, with that chamber's hearing scheduled in the coming weeks.
As the federal government, in the wake of President Trump's budget proposal, considers changes to the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid coverage, the Maryland legislature is considering a series of proposals to shore up the state's health coverage gains. In all forums, our key message to legislators is that broad-based coverage is paramount to our work to make communities healthier and succeed under the All-Payer Model, but that the search for resources to fund that coverage should not jeopardize the state's unique health care model and the improvements in quality and cost-savings achieved over the past four-plus years.
This is a fast-paced session with many moving parts and the highlights here only scratch the surface of the many bills for which MHA advocates on behalf of its members. We hope you'll continue to stay informed of all of MHA's activity in Annapolis by checking our weekly legislative dashboard here .

Bob Atlas Chosen as New MHA President & CEO
Bob Atlas will become the Maryland Hospital Association's fourth President & CEO on March 5. Atlas has several decades of experience as a strategy and policy advisor to health care leaders and governing authorities, and as a top executive of professional services firms. He is currently President of EBG Advisors, the consulting affiliate of the health law firm of Epstein Becker Green. He was previously an advisor on Medicaid reform to North Carolina's Secretary of Health and Human Services, and before that served as Executive Vice President and COO of Avalere Health, where he led the firm's strategic advisory and research services for health care providers, payers, life sciences companies, foundations, consumer groups, and public agencies. Earlier in his career, Atlas was President of The Lewin Group, a nationally respected health care consulting firm. In his 15 years there, he also directed its managed care and health care organizations strategy practices. During the 1980s, Atlas led the consulting practice of Jurgovan & Blair, Inc. (later American International Healthcare), supporting the formation of the managed care industry and the growth of what is now Medicare Advantage. Atlas holds an M.B.A. in Health Administration and Finance from The University of Chicago Booth School of Business and was a commissioned officer in the U.S. Public Health Service.
Share Your Quality Improvement Case Studies
Last year, MHA launched a public website to highlight the work Maryland's hospitals are doing to improve quality. Quality Matters is updated regularly with brief case studies from Maryland's hospitals, and MHA is seeking new stories for the website for 2018. The submissions should be no longer than 200 words and describe a specific effort at your hospital, including patient stories, to improve quality. We also can post any resources you would like to include (PowerPoints, PDFs, pictures, and links to online tools). Please contact Justin Ziombra with your story or if you have any questions.
Safety Grade Review Period Now Open
As of last fall, hospitals in Maryland are now included in the biannual release of Leapfrog safety grades (hospitals in the rest of the country have been part of these grades for several years). The Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grades, which are published publicly online , assign a single letter grade to each hospital and represent overall performance in keeping patients safe from harm. The spring release of grades will be made available to the public in April. A review period, during which hospitals can verify the accuracy of the data Leapfrog will use to calculate spring grades, is now open and runs through March 9. The website to review hospital data is here. For questions, contact GradeHelp@LeapfrogGroup.org .
MDH Implements CDS Online Application System
The Maryland Department of Health's Office of Controlled Substances Administration (OCSA) has launched a web-based system for applicants to renew their Controlled Dangerous Substances (CDS) Registration online. OCSA enforces the CDS Act and ensures the availability of drugs for legitimate medical and scientific purposes while working to prevent drug abuse and misuse. Effective March 1, 2018, CDS registration renewals will only be issued on a three-year cycle (previously registrants were on a two or three-year cycle). According to Maryland House Bill 437 (2016), practitioners authorized to prescribe CDS in Maryland must be registered with the Department's Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) prior to obtaining a new or renewal Maryland State CDS Registration. The CDS Registration Renewal System also verifies that the applicant is registered with the PDMP during the CDS renewal process. The CDS Registration Renewal System can be accessed at https://health.maryland.gov/ocsa . For more information about the online CDS Registration Renewal System, contact OCSA at 410-764-2890.
Report: Deaths from Synthetic Opioids Double in 2016
U.S. deaths from alcohol, drugs and suicide increased by 11 percent in 2016, to nearly 142,000, according to a report released this week by Trust for America's Health and Well Being Trust. Deaths from synthetic opioids, including fentanyl and carfentanil, doubled to 19,400, while deaths from other opioids declined by 3 percent. The alcohol death rate rose by 5 percent in 2016, and the suicide death rate rose by 1 percent. While drug and suicide death rates continued to be highest among white Americans in 2016, they increased more for black and Latino Americans than for other demographic groups, according to the report. "These new data demand policymakers rethink what communities are affected and what multi-sector strategies are needed to address these three epidemics," said TFAH President and CEO John Auerbach.
Collaboration is More Than Just "Getting Along"
It can be easy to believe that health care professionals have a propensity for being able to collaborate. After all, we are nice people who just want to help others.

Reduce Lighting Energy Costs Up to 50 Percent
Lighting accounts for 30 to 60 percent of annual electric costs for many facilities, and many new advances in lighting technology can help your organization conserve energy and save money.

AHA Names Senior Advisor for Cybersecurity and Risk
John Riggi, a nationally recognized expert in health care cybersecurity who spent nearly 30 years with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, has joined the AHA as senior advisor for cybersecurity and risk.

Monday, February 26
MHA Behavioral Health Task Force meeting
The Washington Post , By Josh Hicks, February 16
The Baltimore Sun , By Lorraine Mirabella, February 16
Delmarva Now , By Liz Holland, February 16,
The Baltimore Sun , By Andrea K. McDaniels, February 20
The Washington Post , By Ovetta Wiggins, February 21
Herald-Mail Media , By CJ Lovelace, February 20
The Baltimore Sun , By Andrea K. McDaniels, February 21
The Daily Record , By Tim Curtis, February 21