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June 13, 2020
Coming Together Through Crisis
Monday would have been the MHA 2020 Annual Membership Meeting. It was the right decision to cancel it, at the same time it’s disappointing to miss seeing so many of you in person.

Beyond the need to keep social distancing, we know right now you need time to unburden yourselves of the stress the last three months has put on your hospitals and systems. Plus, you continue to care for COVID-19 patients and many others who are in worse shape due to postponing care. What’s more, you have to prepare for a possible second surge.

These have been trying times, for sure. MHA’s sole aim has been to support you in your caring mission. To answer your questions, to advocate for you, to knock down barriers.

We pushed government for funding and easing of regulations. We pressed for more ventilators, PPE, testing supplies, and medicines. We made sure your workers got access to childcare and public transit. We secured staffing and supply chain solutions. We eased the burdens of data reporting. We got answers to a myriad of questions. We helped you to share ideas with one another.

Our goal is to get you the support you need and deserve as you face the biggest public health crisis of our lives.

If there’s anything more we can do for you, we want to know. Just as you’re there for your patients, we’re here for you. Please continue to reach out to me and the MHA team. 
Bob Atlas
President & CEO
HSCRC Releases Long-Term Care Partnership Grant Opportunity 
The Health Services Cost Review Commission is seeking applications for the new Long-Term Care Partnership Grant Program. This funding program is intended to foster collaboration between hospitals and long-term care facilities and other congregate living facilities that serve vulnerable populations during the COVID-19 crisis. Contact HSCRC at hscrc.rfp-implement@maryland.gov with any questions. The RFA and additional information can be found on the HSCRC website .
HSCRC Approves 3.52% All-Payer Revenue Growth
The Health Services Cost Review Commission (HSCRC) approved rate year 2021 annual update revenue growth of 3.52%—or 3.35% per capita. This includes adjustments to specific hospitals and net adjustments for changes in uncompensated care and assessments.
The projected revenue growth includes:

  • Permanent adjustments of 2.77% for inflation and 0.16% for the demographic adjustment
  • 0.1% statewide impact for complexity and innovation funding
  • -0.28% for potentially avoidable utilization (PAU) savings
  • 0.09% net adjustment for quality policies
  • 0.19% for regional partnership grants

Excluding the set aside for unknown adjustments and hospital specific adjustments for capital and innovation, the average hospital would receive a 3.14% revenue increase. Read more about HSCRC’s public meeting in this month’s MHA Newsbreak .
Maryland Mental Health Innovation Program Offers Support for Health Care Providers
MDMOM, the Maryland Maternal Health Innovation Program is hosting a series of webinars to support health care providers to provide high quality care to pregnant and postpartum women in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. The second webinar in the series is Perinatal Quality Improvement During the COVID-19 Pandemic. The speaker is Debra Bingham, associate professor healthcare quality and safety, University of Maryland School of Nursing. Visit the MDMOM Program website for more information about the webinar series.
Hospital Visitation Policies, Disability Rights 
This week the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights reached an early case resolution with Connecticut after complaints were filed regarding the state’s guidance on hospital “no visitor” policies during the pandemic. The policy only included exceptions for patients receiving services from the state Department of Developmental Services. The complainants alleged that as a result, certain patients were denied equal access to medical treatment, effective communication, the ability to make informed decisions and provide consent. The Maryland Department of Health and Department of Disabilities released a notice May 11 requiring every hospital to adopt visitation policies that comply with federal regulations and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance by May 22. The Department of Disabilities also released frequently asked questions with additional guidance for hospitals . For questions regarding the modification of visitation policies , contact Nicole Stallings
House Committee Holds Briefing on COVID-19 Response and Impact to Hospitals 
Bob Atlas, MHA president and CEO, Leslie Simmons, MHA’s chair for the Council on Legislative & Regulatory Policy and executive vice president of LifeBridge Health testified Tuesday before the Maryland House Health and Government Operations Committee. The hearing included presentation from the Health Services Cost Review Commission .  Mr. Atlas shared how hospitals statewide responded to the pandemic to save lives and the impact it has had on health delivery. Mr. Atlas spoke to the projected surge capacity the state asked hospitals to create by adding an 4,577 additional hospital beds in treating more than 9,500 COVID-19 inpatients and saving more than 6,000 lives. Ms. Simmons shared a timeline of COVID-19 for LifeBridge Health since March 24, which included a focus on telehealth, testing, employee screening and even producing their own PPE. She shared LifeBridge Health’s experience in educating the public about the safety of seeking hospital care, even as they continue to treat COVID-19 patients. House members asked several questions related to response, potential impact on the Maryland Model and more.

This briefing was followed by a briefing provided by the Maryland Insurance Administration introducing the newly appointed insurance commissioner along with MIA’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This was similar to the Senate Finance briefing previously shared in previous updates.  MHA’s request letter to MIA generated a lot of discussion during the briefing including considerations to this year’s carrier rate review, telehealth coverage and ongoing flexibilities of utilization management. MHA will work with your government affairs leads to respond and will continue to update members.
Joint COVID Legislative Workgroup Update
On Wednesday, the Joint COVID Legislative Workgroup convened via Zoom to discuss racial disparities in health care . The work group heard from Dr. Thomas LaVeist of Tulane University, Dr. Sherita Hill Golden of Johns Hopkins Medicine, Dr. Stephen Thomas of the University of Maryland, and Dr. Ernest Carter, Prince George’s County health officer, on this topic. The panelists shared their expertise, views, and suggested next steps on addressing racial disparities in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic but also more broadly within health care.
Hospital Bond Program Applications Due July 2
The deadline to submit applications for the 2020 MHA Hospital Bond Program is July 2. Application forms and supporting documentation are available on MHA's SharePoint site . Completed applications must be submitted via the hospital-specific SharePoint site. For questions, please contact Brett McCone Jennifer Witten , or  Jane Krienke .
SIG Discusses Response to COVID-19 Crisis
The Stakeholder Innovation Group (SIG) met for the first time since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic on Friday June 12. The group, which consists of a diverse group of health care stakeholders including hospitals, physicians, payers, post-acute care providers and a consumer representative, discussed the state and federal governments’ response to the COVID-19 crisis, and how to take lessons from the pandemic to improve the health care delivery system.

While conversations on specific issues are ongoing, there was general consensus about the need to extend the regulatory flexibilities under public health emergency beyond the anticipated expiration date of that emergency. There was also a desire to explore how to continue the use of telehealth permanently under some conditions. Lastly, there was recognition of the need for a collaborative approach to confront the racial inequities embedded in the healthcare system. In addition to sharing respective health equity agendas, there was agreement to add additional voices to the group to ensure a diversity of experiences and perspectives.  
Coping with Racism and Racial Trauma: Webinar Series
The University of Maryland Medical System will host a two-part webinar series June 16 and June 18 to discuss racism and racial trauma. These experiences have a cumulative impact on the physical and mental health of individuals, families and communities and have been made worse during the COVID-19 pandemic.

All are welcome to join in the conversation , which will focus in part one on the impact on adults, and in part two on supporting children and families.
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