October 13, 2019
Push For Price Transparency
A groundswell of support is forming at the state and national levels to make hospital billing more understandable and transparent for our patients.

Feeding that push are nearly daily headlines about patients who received bills that exceeded their expectations, people who were confused after receiving two bills for what looked like the same service, and hospitals’ efforts, legitimate as they may be, to collect on unpaid debts.

This drumbeat may intensify as we head into the 2020 session of the Maryland General Assembly. That is why, as we told you on our Thursday member phone call, we developed the standards for disclosure of outpatient hospital facility fees ( Facility Fee Consumer Fact Sheet , Hospital Commitment Form , Uniform Disclosure Standards ).

But, we know improving billing transparency for our patients is about more than hospitals’ facility fees.
It means voluntarily posting averages or ranges of charges for hospital services, including those that are most widely used—deliveries, imaging and other outpatient diagnostics, for example. That sort of disclosure is being mandated by the federal government under the new rules pertaining to “shoppable” services.

It also encompasses payment and collections and issues that arise from patients who see out-of-network providers. In fact, a recent survey found that some 75% of patients look up the cost of medical procedures online —part of a trend of consumerism in health care.

A major driver of the demand for transparency is the exposure consumers have to the cost of care. This comes with the rapid rise in health plans requiring very substantial out-of-pocket cost sharing.

We have every right to call insurers out for this problem, but we can’t stop people from focusing on hospitals since hospitals are the ones patients see.

So, it’s important that Maryland’s hospitals and health systems think differently about how to address this pressing issue. We can continue to support our patients by taking the lead in ensuring they have the information to make good decisions about their care.
Bob Atlas
President & CEO
The Maryland Patient Safety Center Announces Annual Call for Minogue Award Solutions
For the last 14 years, health care providers and organizations in the Mid-Atlantic region have been submitting solutions that improve quality and patient safety to the Maryland Patient Safety Center. Select solutions are published and placed on its website. Submitted solutions that address all seven categories are eligible for the Minogue Award for Patient Safety Innovation, the Distinguished Achievement in Patient Safety Innovation Award and the eight Circle of Honor for Patient Safety Innovation Awards.
The winners of the Minogue Award for Patient Safety Innovation and the Distinguished Achievement in Patient Safety Innovation Award will be asked to present their Solutions at the Annual Patient Safety Conference March 27. All award winners will be honored at a special reception the evening before the conference, and the top 20 submissions will be asked to present posters at the conference.
More information and a submission form are available here . For questions, contact Lorie Catsos by email or at 410.540.9210.
Lt. Governor’s Behavioral Health Commission To Meet in Hagerstown
Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford’s Commission to Study Mental and Behavioral Health will host its final regional meeting of 2019 October 23 from 4:30-6:30 p.m. at Hagerstown Community College in Hagerstown. MHA encourages member hospitals to attend and provide comments to the commission regarding behavioral health challenges and priorities. You can find more information regarding the commission’s work here . For more information, contact Brian Frazee .
MHA Hosts Free Cybersecurity Forum
In collaboration with the Health Services Cost Review Commission, Maryland Health Care Commission and Maryland Chapter of the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society, your MHA will host a free cybersecurity forum October 23 from 3:30-6 p.m. Registration is open for the event, which will include networking, followed by presentations, a panel of hospital experts and a question-and-answer session. The forum will focus on re-evaluating security, risk and governance to ensure a well-rounded approach to cybersecurity.

For more information, contact Jennifer Witten or Jane Krienke .
Webinar: Grant Opportunity To Expand Telehealth in Nursing Homes
The Maryland Health Care Commission (MHCC) will hold a webinar October 21 from 10 a.m. – 11 a.m. to discuss a potential grant opportunity aimed at expanding use of telehealth in nursing homes.  A Request for Comments (RFC) on the penultimate draft Announcement for Grant Applications: Advancing Telehealth in Nursing Homes (draft) includes stakeholder feedback received in August. To register for the webinar, click here . During the webinar, MHCC will review the draft, collect additional stakeholder input, and discuss next steps.
Judge Blocks Final Rule on Public Charge
A judge Friday blocked the Final Rule on Public Charge Ground of Inadmissibility that was to take effect October 15 . The rule would expand the types of programs that may contribute to a “public charge” determination to include some types of Medicaid coverage and the Medicare Part D low-income subsidy, among other programs. When making immigration determinations, consideration is given to whether individuals can support themselves financially or if they are at risk for becoming a public charge—that is, primarily dependent upon the government for subsistence. MHA submitted its concerns in a comment letter when the proposed rule was first issued, saying our goal is to ensure that people do not delay care for needed health care services and continue to have access to benefits they are eligible for. The finalized rule going into effect this week does exempt use of Medicaid services for emergency medical conditions; by children under 21; and by pregnant women in the Department of Homeland Security’s determinations of whether an immigrant is considered a public charge when attempting to change immigration status. Still, the impact it will have on immigrants accessing health coverage and care is still concerning. In light of the judge’s ruling, MHA will work to gain guidance from the American Hospital Association and other consumer groups to see if there may be opportunities to partner on messaging and resources.
Medicaid System of Care Task Force Hosts Maryland Medicaid for Third Meeting
The Medicaid System of Care Task Force hosted representatives from Maryland Medicaid for its third meeting October 10. MHA presented data on hospital utilization by Medicaid enrollees with behavioral health diagnoses. State representatives presented highlights of the upcoming Administrative Services Organization (ASO) contract, which will be fulfilled by Optum. Enhancements within the Optum ASO contract include: more focus on provider recruitment; stronger requirements for care coordination between providers; and potential interoperability with electronic health records. MHA will continue to engage with Medicaid on the overall behavioral health system of care and to understand more about operational considerations around the transition to Optum. For additional information contact Maansi Raswant .
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 December. 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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