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April 5, 2020
Humanity During Crisis
In the toughest of times, we often see the best of humanity. That has been true during past crises and it is now.

Health care workers are stepping up to the front lines of this public health emergency—as they always do—more than earning the moniker of health care heroes. Communities are showing great support for them, with local businesses volunteering resources and our citizens donating their time, talents, and precious protective gear to your efforts to keep Maryland—and your workforce—safe.

Hospitals are celebrating caregivers by placing “Heroes Work Here” signs on your campuses, greeting those who leave the safety of their own homes each day to save others’ lives. Community members also are cheering your employees, participating in the national #Solidarityat8 effort and showing other welcome signs of encouragement.

Beyond your hospital walls, we’ve all been touched by selfless acts of kindness in our communities. Neighbors are helping neighbors, offering free meals to those who need it, checking in—virtually—with the elderly, and urging friends and families to practice social distancing to stop the spread.

We’ll continue to look for ways— like the video below —to showcase the incredible work you’re doing to keep Marylanders hopeful and healthy during this difficult time. As always, MHA—and all of Maryland—are behind you and ready to help you see our state through to better days.
Bob Atlas
President & CEO
Behavioral Health Considerations During the COVID-19 Pandemic
On April 2 MHA convened a call with members to discuss issues related to serving the behavioral health population during the COVID-19 pandemic. MHA staff asked how hospitals adjusted procedures and policies to treat patients with mental and substance use disorders during this time. Members noted they are increasing their utilization of telehealth encounters and stressed the importance of understanding the guidance and reimbursement issues related to telehealth. In addition, many members noted their hospitals converted semiprivate rooms to private rooms. In a discussion about the behavioral health provider network in their communities, although most members did not express concern about the availability of providers, members noted a lack of crisis beds in Montgomery County could impact the referral capabilities of hospitals in that area. A summary of the call, which includes links to telehealth and behavioral health guidance, is available here
New FDA Enforcement Policy for Masks
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) made changes to face mask and respirator guidance  during the public health emergency. The revisions provide significant, additional enforcement discretion for personal protective equipment. Going forward:
When FDA-cleared masks or respirators are unavailable healthcare professionals and other individuals may improvise PPE.
When FDA-cleared or National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health-approved N95 respirators are not available the use of respirators identified in Centers for Disease Control and Prevention crisis management recommendations, including those approved under standards used in other countries, may be used.
CDC Recommends Public Wear Cloth Masks
The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention now recommends everyone wear a cloth mask in public settings. The American Hospital Association, American Medical Association, and the American Nurses Association all support the guidance but ask that it be clear to the public surgical masks are to be prioritized for frontline health care providers.
Compassion Tribe to Support Health Care Workers
The Maryland Healthcare Education Institute and the Healthcare Experience Foundation (HXF) have teamed up to launch a compassion tribe for health system leaders, staff, physicians, and providers. The goal is to create a forum for support, encouragement, and problem solving during this public health emergency.
 
The groups will host a compassion forum six days a week through April 15 at the attached designated times. Compassion tribe information, including dates and times can be found  here . Should you and your team members need additional or different times, please email Katie Owens katie@healthcareexperience.org or Barry@healthcareexperience.org directly.
HSCRC Cancels April 8 Meeting
The Health Services Cost Review Commission will not hold its April 8 meeting amid the COVID-19 response. For questions, contact Brett McCone .
Updated HSCRC Care Transformation Initiative (CTI) Timeline
Due to the COVID-19 crisis, HSCRC will delay the July 2020 performance period start date for Care Transformation Initiatives (CTIs). A tentative new start date in January 2021 but may be further postponed if the COVID-19 crisis persists. Additionally, HSCRC extended the due dates for the outstanding CTI Intake Templates thus far introduced to the fall of 2020. Meetings of the Care Transformation Steering Committee have been suspended, however, staff will conduct a virtual Q&A session in place of the May 8 meeting to answer questions about the new timelines changes. More detailed information can be found in the memo  here .

For more information or questions, contact  Brian Sims.
Gov. Hogan Signs Telehealth Bills into Law
Gov. Larry Hogan, Senate President Bill Ferguson, and House Speaker Adrienne Jones on Friday signed four bills aimed at improving access to and coverage for telehealth services. The bills were passed by the General Assembly before the coronavirus pandemic, and Gov. Hogan signed the bills into law as an emergency act—meaning they will take effect immediately.
  • HB 448 and SB 402 add asynchronous telemedicine to the state’s telehealth guidelines, allows providers to use telehealth to establish the doctor-patient relationship, requires the provider to adhere to the same standards as for in-person care and, if clinically appropriate, provide or refer a patient to in-person services or another type of telehealth service
  • HB 1208 and SB 502 require the Maryland Medical Assistance Program, to provide telemental health services to patients in their homes and amends the state’s telehealth definition to include telemental health in the list of services covered by certain insurers, non-profit health service plans and health maintenance organizations. The bill aligns with MHA efforts to establish a pilot allowing services rendered at a patient’s location. 
Special Enrollment Period Extended to June 15
The Maryland Health Benefit Exchange extended its special enrollment period that began in mid-March to June 15 to help uninsured Marylanders during the COVID-19 pandemic. Uninsured Marylanders may enroll through the state’s health insurance marketplace, MarylandHealthConnection.gov .
 
To date, more than 10,000 Marylanders already have enrolled in health coverage through the Coronavirus Emergency Special Enrollment Period. More than 85% qualified for free coverage (Medicaid) or financial help to lower the cost of a private health plan. Also, more than half of all the enrollees are young adults ages 18-34. This special enrollment is for private health insurance. Those who are eligible for Medicaid may apply any time of year. For additional details about Maryland’s response to the ongoing pandemic, visit governor.maryland.gov/coronavirus . Health resource information is at health.maryland.gov/coronavirus .
Virtual Crisis Walk-In Clinic to Open at Sheppard Pratt
On Monday Sheppard Pratt is launching a virtual crisis walk-in clinic offering online urgent therapy and telemedicine to any individual living Maryland in need of psychiatric triage and referrals. MHA members may access this resource to help people avoid the emergency rooms.
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