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February 9, 2020
Turning Tables on Consumer Cost Exposure
Hospital billing and collection practices are in the news a lot lately, often misinformed and sensational. Maryland legislators are paying attention. Legislative action is coming this General Assembly session on hospitals’ cost transparency, financial assistance policies, and account collection practices.

The hospital field has an opportunity to lead—to preempt impractical mandates and shape any legislation that is enacted so it will truly help patients. Your MHA team is getting into all the right rooms in Annapolis. We’ve already influenced bill language greatly, though we’re not done by any measure.

Last month, I was pleased to tell legislators, in a public session, that all Maryland hospitals and health systems are committed not to use immigration or legal residency status to screen for, or to award, financial assistance. That hospital-led move was well received.

All hospitals do want patients to get timely, useful information on costs and to help ease their out-of-pocket cost burdens. This job gets harder as insurers shift more costs onto consumers. Many of you are improving practices to explain costs and billing and to tell eligible patients about available relief from hospital bills.

So, beyond our work on the statutory/regulatory front, we will gather up best practices—from within Maryland and beyond—and convene hospital leaders to help all MHA members help consumers to gain a clearer understanding of their costs.

Yet, hospitals alone cannot deliver patients a complete solution to cost exposure. We cannot predict costs of all episodes, and we don’t have all the information needed to tell patients their out-of-pocket cost-sharing responsibility. Insurers, regulators and others need to join with us to make the difference.
Bob Atlas
President & CEO
#Caring4Md: Focus on a Strong Health Care Workforce
This week’s #Caring4Md messages are focused on the importance of a strong health care workforce. The messages are timed to coincide with a hearing this week in Annapolis on Maryland’s Loan Assistance Repayment Program. MHA is supporting more funding for the program, which would help attract and keep more physicians in Maryland. Social media graphics are available here .
Annapolis Update
With the Senate and House bill introduction deadlines now passed, your MHA team is reviewing the hundreds of last-minute bills that were just introduced. Last week, MHA supported legislation establishing a state-based health insurance subsidy program and continued several meetings on priority issues. This week, MHA will testify in support of two of the field’s top priorities: enhancing Maryland’s Loan Assistance Repayment Program and expanding access points for Marylanders in a behavioral health crisis beyond hospital emergency departments. For more information on bills MHA is tracking, click here .
MHA Releases 2020 Update: Human Trafficking Guidelines for Healthcare Providers, Asks for Hospitals’ Voluntary Adoption
Last week, all chief medical officers received a letter asking for commitment to voluntarily adopt the recently updated Human Trafficking Guidelines for Healthcare Providers . Adoption of these recommendations will move Maryland forward in developing a statewide, champion-based response to human trafficking. MHA worked in partnership with the University of Maryland SAFE Center, the Maryland Human Trafficking Task Force and forensic nurse examiners and child abuse experts, to update the guidelines to align with national best practice and recommendations. Hospitals are encouraged to return their completed form to Jane Krienke by March 6. The University of Maryland SAFE Center is in the process of developing hospital-specific training to aid in the implementation of these guidelines. MHA will update the field as the training is available. Additional local, state and national resources are available on MHA’s website .
Webinar Training on New ECIP Management Interface
hMetrix will host two opportunities for all Episode Care Improvement Program (ECIP) participants to learn about the new ECIP Management Interface, which will launch later this year. To register click on the links below:

  • February 18, 10-11 a.m. Register here
  • February 21, 3-4 p.m. Register here
Community Health Workers Certification Applications Due Next Month
There are less than two months left to apply for certification in Maryland based on your experience as a community health worker (CHW). Certification applications will be accepted through March 31. Certification for CHWs in Maryland is voluntary and free. You may continue to work as a CHW without being certified. For more information about certification, full eligibility requirements and application instructions,   click here .  Please note that Maryland does not have a residency requirement for certification so any CHW who thinks they may work within the region should consider applying for Maryland certification regardless of their state of residence.  

Maryland's CHW certification application and application materials have been translated into Spanish. To access the Spanish language materials,   click here . For questions or more information, contact the Maryland Department of Health CHW team by email at   MDH.CHWApplications@Maryland.gov   or call 410-767-5971. 
AHA Executive Forum in Louisville, July 9
The American Hospital Association’s Value Initiative will host an Executive Forum July 9 in Louisville. With a focus on how to improve value through innovation and collaboration with providers, payers, employers and community partners, the event is free to members. Maryland hospital leaders can learn from their peers across Region 3 and around the country. The forum will focus on practices, challenges, opportunities and action steps to lower cost, improve outcomes and enhance the patient experience. 

A speaker from outside the hospital field will share transferable lessons about consumer experience. And, there will be a discussion on a variety of strategies, including those that disrupt the opioid epidemic and address patient and community social needs on a broader level. Ultimately, the forum provides an opportunity for leaders to learn from each other, network and expand thinking around ways to improve value.
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