September 8, 2019
No Surprises on Surprise Billing
A bipartisan effort to address surprise medical bills is expected to be among lawmakers’ top priorities when Congress returns this week from August recess.

MHA is engaged on the issue —including the House’s No Surprises Act and Senate’s Lower Health Care Cost Act—and has been since it arose months ago. The chief concern is federal proposals are contemplating using a payer’s “median contracted rate” to settle billing disputes. In our state there are no median contracted rates for hospitals; it’s been that way for the past 40 years under our all-payer rate-setting system.

MHA advocated strongly for the Health Services Cost Review Commission (HSCRC) to conduct a legal review to understand the bills’ impact on our system. HSCRC agreed and found this legislation, if adopted, could be harmful to the Maryland Model.

To prevent adverse effects, we encouraged HSCRC to send a letter to the Maryland congressional delegation. HSCRC requested an amendment to let Maryland retain the authority to determine disputes about rates and settle using our current system.

In support of the HSCRC’s congressional ask, MHA also submitted a letter . We are urging our delegation to consider an amendment to the federal surprise billing proposals. We recommend they make clear that Maryland is except from the “median contracted rate” provision—so insurers continue to pay hospitals HSCRC-defined rates.

MHA will continue to follow the bills and we will advocate to ensure protection of our successful, unique system.
Bob Atlas
President & CEO
Webinar Focuses on Improving Mental Health
Registration is open for a webinar focused on maternal health, hosted by Vizient, December 11. Webinar attendees will hear how participants in a collaborative developed and implemented new, standard protocols for early recognition of obstetric patients who may be experiencing hemorrhage or preeclampsia/eclampsia. For login or password assistance, contact Ali Morgan , and for questions about the webinar or collaborative, contact Roxanne Nations .
Program Trains Hospital Staff to Support LEP Patients
Adventist HealthCare Center for Health Equity & Wellness is offering a Qualified Bilingual Staff Program to educate bilingual staff on the legal and ethical requirements associated with interpreting for limited English proficient patients and family members in a clinical setting. Program participants are equipped with the necessary skills to provide high quality interpreting during clinical encounters. The next session is October 2-3, and registration information is available here .
Lawmakers, Advocates Strongly Discourage Use of New, At-Home Rape Kits
The Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault and state and federal officials are speaking out against the makers of a new at-home rape kit, saying they are irresponsible and discouraging the public from using them. Colleges and universities have been targets of the company’s outreach. The Baltimore Sun reported that Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh and members of the Maryland Sexual Assault Evidence Kit Policy & Funding Committee are advising colleges against promoting the use of the MeToo Kits, and instead to encourage students to seek help by going to a hospital and/or contacting law enforcement. Serious concerns with using the kits include potentially encouraging victims to delay or forgo a forensic exam provided by trained professionals, which is necessary for ensuring proper evidence collection and prompt treatment of injuries. The article raises additional legal concerns about the kits’ admissibility in court due to the lack of protection of the chain of custody.
Hospitals Urged to Share Work on Diabetes
The first population health target required under the Maryland Model contract and approved by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services—is diabetes. To help demonstrate hospitals' existing investments and progress in meeting this goal, we’re asking you to submit case studies to MHA’s Innovations Inventory , an initiative of the Stakeholder Innovation Group. Visit the Innovations for Better Health site to share how your hospitals and health systems are partnering with others to reduce incidence of diabetes and prevent complications among those who already have diabetes.
MHA to Hold Meeting on Care Transformation Initiatives
MHA will host a meeting September 12 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. to discuss the Health Services Cost Review Commission’s proposed approach to measure Care Transformation Initiatives (CTIs) and apply payment incentives for realized savings from those interventions. Members of MHA’s Technical Work Group and MPA Work Group as well as hospital representatives on HSCRC’s Care Transformation Steering Committee, Payment Models Work Group and Total Cost of Care Work Group are encouraged to attend.
Forum on Maryland’s Hospital Alert System Announced
On August 26 the Maryland Institute for Emergency Services Systems (MIEMSS) distributed invitations for hospital representatives to participate in a forum regarding hospital alert system, or CHATS. The CHATS system allows hospital emergency departments to advise EMS agencies of capacity and resource constraints. MIEMSS has received input from EMS stakeholders on potential improvements to CHATS and would like to gather additional feedback from the hospital field. Information on the forum and how to register is below. For questions, contact Erin Dorrien .

Hospital Field CHATS Forum
September 24, noon to 2 p.m.
653 West Pratt St.
Baltimore, Md. 21201

RSVP- Barbara Goff , 410-706-5074
Panel Addresses Crisis Services in Maryland
The Crisis Subcommittee of the Commission to Study Mental and Behavioral Health in Maryland, chaired by Delegate Robbyn Lewis and Steve Schuh, held its fifth meeting August 28. The group discussed new state protocols allowing local EMS providers to bypass the emergency department and transport patients to a lower level of care, if appropriate. The subcommittee also finalized criteria for inclusion in a statewide inventory of crisis services. The inventory will be completed by the Maryland Department of Health and will be reported to the full commission in a report in December. The next meeting of the subcommittee is September 25, location TBD. Click here for more information on the commission or contact Erin Dorrien .
National Group Buys Program Offers Savings for MHA Members
Maryland Hospital Association (MHA) members are eligible for Vizient’s National Group Buys through MHA Prime. The program offers opportunities for members to realize substantial savings and enhanced contract value on select products and services. To date, Vizient’s capital equipment group buys have saved members more than $421 million. Group buys are available in 45 major categories, including biomedical engineering, imaging, business office, cardiology, laboratory, central supply, emergency room, medical records, and surgery. Here is a list of group buys on offer through September, and here are the offers through Siemens Group Buys for the same period. For more information contact your MHA Prime Client Executives: Joy Money at 240-856-3303 or Diane Bruno at 410-790-8031.
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