March 30, 2018
Legislative Successes
Earlier this week, a General Assembly conference committee deliberating the state's budget approved a $30 million reduction in the hospital Medicaid tax - the 'sick' tax - for fiscal year 2019.
 
The figure is notable for two reasons: first, the $5 million increase from what Gov. Larry Hogan initially proposed marks the first time the legislature has bumped up the reduction; second, it demonstrates that legislators are taking seriously the state's commitment to holding down health care costs so Maryland succeeds under the All-Payer Model and its forthcoming successor.
 
Further good news: the conference committee determined that the amount of the spend-down for fiscal year 2020 should be $40 million. You can bet the MHA team will work diligently before and during the 2019 session to ensure that happens.
 
The General Assembly also is close to passing legislation to shore up the individual insurance market. This will benefit Maryland's hospitals by keeping down the percentage of the population that lacks insurance. Moreover, we succeeded in thwarting the enactment of additional hospital assessments to fund the program.
 
These victories illustrate the significant headway we have made in educating legislators about the value of controlling costs and reducing the financial burden on hospital patients. Legislators' ongoing support will be essential as we lay the groundwork for the next phase of the All-Payer Model, where cost control across all health care settings will become even more important. And with some possible turnover in November's state elections, the education and advocacy effort will need to continue.
 
These accomplishments could not have happened without your help. In the months leading up to the legislative session, every hospital CEO in Maryland signed a letter to Gov. Hogan stressing the importance of reducing the Medicaid tax. CEOs continued their advocacy during the budget conference committee by pushing hard for the additional spend-down.
 
While this is a win for hospitals and patients in the short term, its significance reaches far beyond. Legislators are embracing the key role they must play in ensuring that Maryland continues to lead the nation when it comes to health care delivery transformation.

Bob Atlas
President & CEO

At Work in Annapolis
We have entered the final weeks of the 2018 legislative session and the General Assembly passed the fiscal year 2019 state budget this week. For the first time, the legislature increased the spend-down on the sick tax, raising the Governor's proposed $25 million to $30 million with the promise of $40 million in fiscal year 2020. Several important bills that have crossed over to the opposite chamber had hearings this week, including reinsurance bills, bringing them one step closer to final passage. Your MHA team will continue working hard as the session wraps up. You can track MHA's activities via our dashboard , which provides an overview of the previous week and a look at important hearings and events for the following week.
Hospital Bond Application Process Opens
The application process for the 2018 Hospital Bond Project opened this week. All application materials can be found at www.mhaonline.org/bond . Hospitals applying for funds under this program must request the appropriate approvals/exemptions from both the Maryland Health Care Commission and Health Services Cost Review Commission no later than Friday, April 20. Applications must be submitted by Friday, June 22, including HSCRC and MHCC correspondence and other letters of support. Application forms and other supporting documentation are submitted via hospital-specific SharePoint site. If you have questions, contact Brett McCone , Jennifer Witten , or Jane Krienke .
Crisis Stabilization Center Opens
Earlier this week, Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford joined Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh, Maryland Department of Health Deputy Secretary for Behavioral Health Dr. Barbara J. Bazron, and Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen to announce the opening of the state's first crisis stabilization center. The center will provide basic first aid, withdrawal management, and screening and referral to treatment for individuals with substance use disorders. Services provided will divert individuals under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol from emergency rooms, as well as stabilize and connect patients to treatment and community supports. Patients will stay at the center for six to 10 hours, and will be provided with 30 days of case management services. Operating with 15 beds, it is anticipated the center will serve approximately 500 people in the first year.
AHA Announces 2018 Innovation Challenge
The American Hospital Association this week announced the launch of the 2018 Innovation Challenge to source and spread novel approaches for integrated care delivery and financing models for high-need, high-cost populations. Teams from AHA member hospitals and health systems are invited to submit proposals for innovative approaches to drive better health outcomes, improve the care experience, and reduce the total cost of care. The received proposals (due by May 24) will be evaluated by a panel of AHA-member judges and sponsors. Three awards, funded by First American Healthcare Finance, The Roger G. Larson Memorial Endowment and HRET - including a top prize of $100,000 - will be presented at the AHA Leadership Summit in San Diego on July 27. AHA members received an invitation email with further details, including complete challenge rules and instructions on how to log on to the Challenge website .
Cybersecurity Resources Available
The American Hospital Association's Senior Advisor for Cybersecurity and Risk, John Riggi has provided a recent presentation as a resource for hospitals. Riggi's new role with AHA was created to help the field mitigate the many cyber and physical risks hospitals and health systems face. He is available to provide:
  • Strategic cybersecurity and risk advisory services
  • Hospital leadership cybersecurity education and awareness services
  • Cyber incident response strategy and advisory services
  • Law enforcement and national security relations
Minority Outreach and Technical Assistance Grant RFP Applications Open
The Maryland Department of Health, Office of Minority Health and Health Disparities seeks interested organizations to apply for the fiscal year 2019 Minority Outreach and Technical Assistance Grant. This is a competitive grant opportunity. All non-profit organizations that serve racial/ethnic minorities who reside in Maryland are eligible to apply. A pre-application training session will be held to address any questions regarding the funding announcement Friday, April 6 at 3 p.m. Please review the Request for Applications (RFA), supplemental documents, forms, and related resources for all application information. Grant applications are due Friday, April 20 no later than 3:30 p.m. Direct any questions to Namisa Kramer at Namisak.Kramer1@Maryland.gov or 410-767-8954.
National Public Health Week Starts Monday
The American Public Health Association will observe National Public Health Week 2018 next week and hospitals are encouraged to participate. This year's theme, "Healthiest Nation 2030: Changing our Future Together," will celebrate the power of prevention, advocate for healthy and fair policies, share strategies for successful partnerships, and champion the role of a strong public health system. During each day of National Public Health Week, the association will focus on one public health topic. Details are included in each link below.  
  APHA has also provided a toolkit with sample social media posts and information about how to engage with your community.
How Much Does Patient Experience Matter?
 
When we look at our patient satisfaction scores, we might say the "patient experience" matters. When a patient or family member brings a problem to our attention or has a complaint, we might also say that the "patient experience" matters. When a patient returns to us and/or is readmitted, we could also say that the "patient experience" continues to matter.

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.

Joint Commission Issues Advisory on Preventing Newborn Falls in Hospitals
 
The Joint Commission this week issued a safety advisory for hospitals on preventing newborn falls.

TOP NEWS FROM THE WEEK
Baltimore Business Journal , By Morgan Eichensehr, March 23
 
Baltimore Business Journal , By Morgan Eichensehr, March 26
 
The Daily Record , By Tim Curtis, March 26
 
The Baltimore Sun , By Michael Dresser, March 26
 
The Baltimore Sun , By Jon Kelvey, March 26
 
The Baltimore Sun , By Andrea K. McDaniels, March 26
 
Capital Gazette , By Danielle Ohl, March 27
 
WCBC , By Staff, March 28
 
The Daily Record , By Staff, March 28