Logo
March 15, 2020
Next Phase in Coronavirus Response
This is a grave moment. The coronavirus/COVID-19 outbreak is escalating. Fortunately, so is Maryland’s response to it. Hospitals are out front, working well with partners to protect the health of Marylanders.

Gov. Larry Hogan’s bold decision to close schools, along with other measures to limit social contacts, has wide-ranging effects on our hospitals, our communities, and our lives. But it’s the right thing to do. We expect to hear even more from him mid-day Monday.

So many of you have been running full throttle over the weekend. MHA is working directly with state officials—who are really going above and beyond—both to advise them and to convey information to and from hospitals. Thanks to all of you who’ve fulfilled our requests so quickly.

A priority of the Maryland Department of Health (MDH) is to increase COVID-19 testing capability: More collection sites, more testing sites, more volume per site, less consumption of personal protective equipment. They’ve gotten more helpful in guiding physicians on how to screen and refer patients for testing.

We joined with MDH and the Maryland State Department of Education to find childcare solutions for health care workers so they can perform their lifesaving duties. They’re thinking creatively about sites and staffing, and cost coverage.

We were at the table Sunday with top MDH staff and the Maryland Emergency Management Agency, planning for the expected surge in cases. Plus, we’re looking at the best uses of federal waivers approved Friday night that will allow flexibility in where patients are placed.

The people of Maryland’s hospitals and health systems are amazing! Our hospitals are prepared to take on all manner of emergency. We’re fortunate our state is taking this pandemic seriously. MHA is as well, and our team is here for you as you care for Maryland 24/7.
Bob Atlas
President & CEO
HSCRC Considers Rate Setting System to Fund Incremental Expenses, Volumes
On Friday, the Health Services Cost Review Commission (HSCRC) sent a letter to hospital CEOs and CFOs to address COVID-19. At the request of MHA and hospitals, HSCRC is considering the rate setting system as a potential means to fund incremental expenses and volumes. Like Ebola funding in 2015, MHA recommends a field-wide approach to capture expenses and request HSCRC funding. To that end, MHA is working with members to create a survey tool to capture information required to both justify a potential rate request and to support reimbursement by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) when monies are available.

The expense capture tool will be complete next week and shared with hospitals. Should you have any questions, please contact Brett McCone or Katie Eckert
Hogan Enacts Emergency Order to Expand Childcare Access for Health Care Workers, Others
Gov. Larry Hogan enacted an emergency order to expand access to childcare for critical personnel during the state of emergency. This will help ensure childcare services are available for providers of health care, emergency medical services, and law enforcement personnel while schools are closed to prevent the spread of COVID-19. This order gives the Maryland State Department of Education the flexibility to work with regional and local officials to quickly and effectively make childcare services available that adhere to public health guidelines.
MDH Issues Guidance on COVID-19 Testing
Maryland Department of Health issued additional guidance noting COVID-19 testing is available at commercial and some hospital labs. MDH recommends clinicians send specimens directly to those laboratories for testing. Providers do not need MDH or local health department approval to order, collect, or submit specimens to these labs. Check with the labs regarding collection and packaging requirements. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now recommends that a nasopharyngeal (NP) swab alone is adequate—no need to collect both an NP and oropharyngeal/throat (OP) swab. Providers can make their own determination as to whether a patient warrants COVID-19 testing. Do not need to call the state or local health department about cases.

MHA understands this is not a full solution to your needs. We’re working to determine hospital testing capacity across the state and to find other opportunities for specimen collection.
#Caring4Md: Focus on Patients
This week’s #Caring4Md messaging focuses on patients’ stories of gratitude for the care you deliver day in and day out. We’re highlighting several patient stories that capture the commitment of your staff to #Caring4Md. If you need material for your hospital or health system’s social media channels, you can find it here . Please send ideas for employee and patient stories to mha@mhaonline.org .
Sabatini Retires from HSCRC, Adam Kane Named Chairman
Nelson Sabatini, chairman of the Health Services Cost Review Commission, retired from the commission after four years of service. In that time, he helped advance the Total Cost of Care Model and its predecessor the All-Payer Model. Gov. Larry Hogan nominated Adam Kane to be the new HSCRC chairman. Mr. Kane, managing director of corporate affairs at Redwood Capital Investments, previously served as senior vice president of government relations and regulatory affairs for Erickson Living. He has been a commissioner since 2017. To learn more about HSCRC’s actions during its March public meeting, read MHA’s Newsbreak .
HSCRC: RFP Released For Medicare Advantage Partnership Grant Program
The Health Services Cost Review Commission (HSCRC) announced the release of the request for proposals (RFP) for the Medicare Advantage Partnership (MAP) Grant Program. The program offers up to $50 million of statewide funding in rate year (RY) 2020 and RY 2021 to any Maryland hospital that applies for and is awarded an MA partnership grant. The goal of MAP is to increase access to MA plans and to offer additional services for high-cost and high-risk beneficiaries. HSCRC approved the creation of the RFP guidelines and process at its meeting Wednesday.
Register today for MHA’s Annual Membership Meeting, June 15-16 
Maryland General Assembly to Adjourn Early
Maryland House Speaker Adrienne Jones and Senate President Bill Ferguson announced Sunday that the Maryland General Assembly will adjourn early, and Sine Die will be Wednesday, as the state responds to the coronavirus/COVID-19 outbreak. The General Assembly plans to return the last week of May to pass any remaining priority bills. The presiding officers also announced the creation of a special joint committee on COVID-19.

Your MHA team is working to ensure hospital priorities are addressed before adjournment. Please be on the lookout for our Sine Die Report.
Call For Applications: State CHW Advisory Committee Seat
Applications are being accepted for the seat of "registered nurse with experience in community health" on the  State Community Health Worker (CHW) Advisory Committee .  Information on the Advisory Committee, including upcoming scheduled meetings can be found on the Advisory Committee website . Applications must be submitted by April 17. The Maryland Department of Health Thursday also notified CHWs that they could receive a deadline extension for their certification applications. The application window ends March 31, and CHWs can request an extension of no more than 60 days.

To request an extension, an applicant must email the Maryland Department of Health (MDH) CHW team at MDH.CHWApplications@maryland.gov by March 31 and offer a reason for the extension request.
HIV Prophylaxis Pilot Program
The Governor’s Office of Crime Prevention, Youth and Victim Services’ released a new abbreviated protocol for providing HIV prophylaxis to victims of sexual assault. State law requires that qualifying victims have access to the full 28-day course of HIV prophylaxis at no out-of-pocket cost. State law also allows for the use of a pharmaceutical patient assistance programs or a patient’s insurance as long as the patient does not incur any cost. All hospitals are asked to evaluate their ability to provide access to this medication for victims of sexual assault. A sexual assault forensic exam is not required, which means that individuals can present at any access point along the care continuum from primary care offices to urgent care centers and hospitals that do not provide forensic services.

The Governor’s Office of Crime Prevention, Youth, and Victim Services will collaborate with any medical facility, pharmacy, pharmaceutical company, or any other related entity, to ensure all victims receive a screening, medication, and follow-up care. All inquiries should be sent to saru.claims@maryland.gov .
MHA will continue to work with the state as guidance is finalized and will coordinate a webinar in the coming months. For questions, contact Jane Krienke .
Maryland Easy Enrollment Health Insurance Program (MEEHP) Holds Third Advisory Work Group Meeting
The MEEHP Advisory Work Group held its third meeting March 9 in Baltimore. Johanna Fabian-Marks, Director of Policy & Plan Management at the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange, provided updates on delayed implementation of MEEHP Phase 2 from 2021 to 2022. During 2021, the group will roll out “Phase 1.5”, which will focus on advancing outreach and ensuring coordination with all necessary stakeholders. During the current peak tax season, MEEHP is also encouraging use of the Easy Enrollment social media toolkit , which can be used by organizations to inform the public about the program’s availability. MHA will continue to ensure that MEEHP implementation is aligned with the field’s priorities around the need for broad-based, affordable coverage. For additional information, contact Diana Hsu .
Want to receive your Toward Better Health
newsletter via text message?
Click here to sign up.
Maryland Hospital Association | www.mhaonline.org