March 3, 2019
Expanding Coverage ... Again
Hospitals have long been dedicated to the proposition that the people they serve must have health insurance, so that they can afford care and so that risks and costs are spread equitably. That enables people to live healthy, productive lives.

However, about 1 in 20 Marylanders still lack health insurance. And because of efforts at the federal level to undercut the Affordable Care Act, the number of uninsured once again could rise.

I testified last week at the House of Delegates – and will testify at the Senate this week – in support of legislation that works to expand health coverage in the state. (Read MHA’s full position here ). The bill has the potential to cover approximately an additional 130,000 Marylanders.

The proposal would have individuals indicate on tax forms if they lack health insurance and, if so, to receive guidance on Medicaid eligibility or the opportunity to buy insurance on the health benefit exchange. A state-levied penalty on some individuals would work as a down payment of premiums for basic health coverage. Many people will receive federal subsidies to cover the part of premiums not paid for by the down payment.
In speaking to the General Assembly, I am describing the historic role that hospitals have played in ensuring that patients have health insurance. I am also noting the pivotal role Maryland hospitals play in the Total Cost of Care Model.

At the heart of our support for the bill is importance of basic health care coverage to your efforts to transform health care. As I noted, “advances in care delivery cannot be fully realized unless people have affordable, good health care coverage to access care.”
Bob Atlas
President & CEO
MHEI Program Aims to Boost HCAHPS Scores
The Maryland Healthcare Education Institute will host a workshop aimed at helping hospitals improve their Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) scores. The workshop, “Boosting HCAHPS – Creating the Ultimate Patient Experience,” is focused largely on developing relationship-centered care – a strategy that helps support HCAHPS scores and the bottom line. The program will take place May 23. For more information and to register, click here .
Md. General Assembly Update
With two weeks to go until Crossover Day, your Maryland Hospital Association (MHA) team testified on several issues last week, including the Medicaid budget and legislation regarding outpatient facility fees. The House of Delegates passed the $15 minimum wage bill with amendments that would extend implementation by two years to 2025, which goes beyond MHA’s suggested amendment. The bill now moves to the Senate for their consideration. This week, the House of Delegates begins making decisions on the state’s fiscal year 2020 budget. With an expected significant revenue write-down announcement forthcoming, the Department of Legislative Services identified several potential cuts for the General Assembly to balance the budget, including delaying the entire $40-million Medicaid Deficit Assessment reduction from Gov. Larry Hogan’s proposed budget. House Appropriations Committee Chair Maggie McIntosh subsequently introduced a legislative Budget Reconciliation & Financing Act (BRFA) that removes half of the $40-million reduction. MHA President & CEO Bob Atlas, who testified in support of a bill that would impose a health insurance individual mandate in Maryland last week, will provide testimony in support of the full $40-million reduction at a budget hearing this week. For more information on bills MHA is tracking, please click here .
Maryland's Hospitals Seek Key Policy Reforms
Your Maryland Hospital Association shared a media release last week with information about three bills that MHA advanced on behalf of the hospital field in the Maryland General Assembly and other priorities. The legislation is aimed at modernizing care delivery, ensuring objectivity and predictability in the medical liability climate, and advancing efficient and effective behavioral health care. To read the full release, click here .
HSCRC Announces Updates to TCOC, CRP
The Health Services Cost Review Commission (HSCRC) recently decided to release detailed patient-level Medicare claims data to all Maryland hospitals, regardless of participation in the Care Redesign Program. This change, which will begin in 2020, was one of several updates related to the Total Cost of Care Model and the Care Redesign Program announced last week by Katie Wunderlich, HSCRC Executive Director. To read the full memo, click here .
Maryland Mobile Wellness Initiative to Support Substance Use Disorder Care
Maryland Lt. Governor Boyd K. Rutherford last week joined state and local leaders to announce the Maryland Mobile Wellness Initiative, a mobile health vehicle to support Anne Arundel County’s array of substance use disorder care. “Today I am pleased to announce the launch of the Maryland Mobile Wellness Initiative, a mobile wellness vehicle that will link individuals to community service providers for help with substance use disorders,” said Lt. Governor Rutherford. “As we know, the decision to voluntarily enter treatment requires a significant level of engagement and readiness, and this will offer another way for individuals and their families to seek help in a local, non-threatening environment.”

The Maryland Hospital Association has a number of resources available to help address the state’s behavioral health needs, including the opioid crisis. To read more, click here .
Deadline Tuesday to Nominate for Health Care Heroes
The Daily Record is calling for nominations for its Health Care Heroes awards. Your Maryland Hospital Association is an event partner for the awards, which honor organizations and individuals who have made an impact on the quality of health care in Maryland. Nominations are due Tuesday. For more information and to fill out a nomination form or application, click here .
National health spending is projected to grow 5.5 percent on average annually and reach nearly $6 trillion by 2027:
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