June 6, 2020
Racism and Health
Like people across our nation, we at MHA and throughout the hospital field have been deeply affected by the tragic, senseless killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and so many others.

These losses take a toll, not only on their grieving families, but on us all, as we struggle with the very real consequences of longstanding, systemic racism.

We now are witnessing perhaps the biggest uprising in a generation, as protesters of all races join to cry out against racial injustice that has plagued our country for too long.

While we acknowledge the problem, listen to others, and learn, we must also confront the causes of racism, its manifestations in day-to-day life, and its effects on our communities.

Quite simply, racism is a public health problem. As Maryland’s health care leaders, committed to advance the health of all Marylanders, it is our duty to act.

We know already our marginalized communities struggle with social and economic adversity. Less access to good education, housing, transportation, food, play spaces, and yes, health care, contributes to poorer health outcomes. Racism adds stresses and other burdens that harm health. The disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on black and brown people gives yet more evidence.

MHA has begun to lay a foundation to support hospital leaders as you work to reduce health disparities, eliminate implicit bias, and support the underserved.

Last year we launched two member-led groups: our Health Equity Task Force helps hospitals and health systems to address social determinants of health to reduce gaps in health outcomes; our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Advisory Group advances initiatives to uplift hospital cultures.

They and our policy councils will also help frame an advocacy agenda to make sure government leaders hear the unified voice of the hospital field on matters of racism and other drivers of health disparities.

We must do better. We cannot grow as a society or fulfill our mission to advance health and health care in Maryland until we deal with inequality and bias.
Bob Atlas
President & CEO
Update on Future CARES Act and HHS Funding
On Thursday the American Hospital Association held a member call with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Deputy Chief of Staff Paul Mango to discuss future funding. HHS intends to distribute additional targeted funds soon for:

  • Safety net hospitals
  • “Medicaid-only providers”
  • Hospitals treating a large number of COVID patients: another cut-off date will be selected to capture hospitals that did not receive a payment from the first round of hotspot funding and to help those that continue to treat a high volume of COVID patients. The first date was April 10.

In addition to this funding, HHS is also assessing how it will provide future amounts from the emergency relief fund. HHS did not give a specific methodology but intends to look at the data and distribute funds where most needed. HHS plans to create an online portal where data can be submitted on lost revenue, and increased expenses, whether COVID or non-COVID. HHS recommended institutions begin aggregating this data as they expect to request information from hospitals later in June for a large distribution. HHS is working on guidance on the reporting process. In addition to data on lost revenue and expenses, hospitals should document how they’ve used federal funding support to date.
MHA will discuss this matter on a Tuesday CFO and health care payment call. If you have questions, contact Brett McCone .
HHS Deadline for Data for Remdesivir Distribution is June 8
The next deadline to submit data to inform the next Remdesivir distribution is Monday, June 8 at midnight. Hospitals should have received information this week from HHS ( teletracking@hhs.gov ) with instructions on how to submit.
This request is a follow up to prior Remdesivir data requests and will follow the normal protocols established for previous requests through the TeleTracking platform. Hospitals will be asked for the most up-to-date information for the same data points previously submitted. These are:

  • Number of hospitalized patients with COVID-19, confirmed or suspected
  • Number of ICU patients with COVID-19, confirmed or suspected

The American Hospital Association included more details on this request here . For questions or more information, contact Katie Eckert .

Hospitals are expected to receive their next shipment of Remdesivir next week, on Thursday or Friday. MHA will reach out next week with details on allocation and delivery date. For questions, contact Nicole Stallings
MHA Submits Comment Letter Responding to CMS First Interim Final Rule for COVID-19
MHA submitted a comment letter on June 1 responding to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid (CMS) first interim final rule (IFC) addressing the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE). The first IFC primarily addressed telehealth waivers and flexibility expansions, including significant additions to covered telehealth services and codes, removal of frequency limitations, and coverage of telehealth for use with new patients. In the letter, MHA urged CMS to maintain the enumerated flexibilities for as long as possible, and to immediately enact the same waivers at the outset of any future PHEs.

CMS issued a second IFC later in April, and MHA intends to comment on those provisions. For additional information, contact Maansi Raswant .
FAQ on Hospital Visitation Policies During COVID
In May, the Maryland Department of Health (MDH) and the Maryland Department of Disabilities (MDOD) issued guidance that hospitals during the COVID-19 public health emergency need to adopt visitation policies that comply with applicable U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance and federal regulations that also recognize the needs of people with disabilities. On behalf of the field MHA submitted a series of clarifying questions. In response, MDOD Secretary Carol A. Beatty shared information in this FAQ document to help hospitals develop visitation policies in compliance with the notice from MDH and MDOD.
Rate Year 2021 Annual Payment Update to be Decided at June 10 HSCRC Virtual Public Meeting
The Health Services Cost Review Commission (HSCRC) will decide the rate year 2021 annual payment update at its June 10 public meeting. The amount in the final HSCRC staff recommendation is unchanged from the draft recommendation. MHA submitted a comment letter May 21, and MHA Senior Vice President Brett McCone will testify at the meeting. For more information on the annual payment update and other HSCRC matters, please contact Brett McCone or Katie Eckert .
Joint COVID Legislative Workgroup Update
On Wednesday, the Joint COVID Legislative Workgroup, which is made up of several Maryland General Assembly leaders, received a detailed briefing from the Maryland Department of Health about the state’s response to the pandemic. Secretary Bobby Neall, Deputy Secretary Fran Phillips, and Chief Operating Officer & Medicaid Director Dennis Schrader provided updates on several issues, including bed surge, PPE, testing, and contact tracing. The work group also heard an update from Dr. Tom Inglesby, director of the Center for Health Security at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. To see the full PowerPoint presentation from the meeting with additional information, click here
BHA Letter About Response to the Impact of Civil Unrest, Isolation on Mental Health 
In its latest letter to Maryland’s behavioral health partners, the Behavioral Health Administration (BHA) highlighted the impacts of civil unrest associated with the traumatic killing of George Floyd by law enforcement on our communities. BHA underscored the importance of behavioral health partners participation in a coordinated response to address mental health and trauma-related needs, such as fear, anxiety, and stress in our communities. Dr. Aliya Jones, deputy secretary and executive director, called for behavioral health partners to work together and support each other through these more recent unsettling events and welcomed suggestions for doing so. She affirmed BHA will more deliberately address the impact of social determinants on mental health.

Dr. Jones also encouraged providers to widely share resources and supports that BHA has made available as part of Maryland’s COVID-19 response, including a telehealth resource guide to help new patients access care, weekly updates to FAQs, provider specific webinars, which are posted on the BHA website and its crisis helpline. 

In recognition that health care providers on the front lines and need resources, BHA suggested Mind Resilience , a program that focuses on self-care, well-being, and a resilient mindset. Dr. Jones also shared that BHA is partnering with Psych Associates of Maryland to address the mental health needs of and access to quality services for first responders, including frontline health care workers.

For more information, including links to the latest COVID-19 guidance from BHA, read the full letter, here .
National Group Buys Program Offers Savings for MHA Members
MHA members are eligible for Vizient’s National Group Buys through MHA Prime . The program offers opportunities to realize substantial savings and enhanced contract value on select products and services. To date, Vizient’s capital equipment group buys have saved hospitals 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. 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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