January 6, 2019
United Front
When the General Assembly reconvenes in Annapolis Wednesday for the start of the 2019 legislative session, their docket will include many topics that affect your health systems, your patients, and your communities.

MHA’s talented government affairs team — Nicole Stallings, Brian Frazee, Jennifer Witten, Neal Karkhanis, and Jane Krienke — has put in many hours over the interim with leaders from your organizations to identify issues that will affect Maryland’s health care community and to define a winning strategy.

Our top three aims this session are:

·         Secure up to a $40-million reduction of the state’s $334-million Medicaid assessment in fiscal year 2020
·         Limit unsustainable increases in medical malpractice awards by setting objective benchmarks and criteria used to develop life care plans
·         Modernize the state’s Certificate of Need process to align with the parameters of the new Total Cost of Care Model.

We will also engage in multi-stakeholder issues including efforts to enact an individual mandate, enhance prescription drug affordability, improve maternal health care, and curb the opioid epidemic.

We’re producing tools and resources to help advance our shared goals. They include:

·         MHA’s advocacy agenda
·         In-person legislative session preview at MHA’s offices
·         High-level infographics to explain at-a-glance the complex concepts behind our issues
·         Report on quality and safety in Maryland’s hospitals
·         A pocket-sized, printable card with five good things to know about Maryland’s hospitals
·         A new website, Innovations for Better Health, which highlights innovation by the state’s hospitals and health care providers.

As always, MHA will report to members early and often throughout the 90-day session and will coordinate closely with your government affairs leads. We appreciate your partnership as we present a united front on behalf of Maryland’s health care community.
Bob Atlas
President & CEO
CMS Postpones Mandate to Comply With Billing Requirement
At the urging of MHA and at the request of the Health Services Cost Review Commission (HSCRC), the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has agreed to postpone a requirement to comply with billing practices under the National Correct Coding Initiative (NCCI) until July 1. An original proposal called for complete compliance by January 1. The Maryland Hospital Association suggested the delay in a comment letter sent to the HSCRC November 29. CMS indicated that the July 1 date will not be extended for any reason. There will be a meeting with MHA, hospitals and HSCRC staff, at the HSCRC on January 23 to identify HSCRC specific regulatory actions that may be need to comply with the new rules.

MHA Contact: Brett McCone , Vice President, Rate Setting
MHA Supports Amendments to Telehealth Regulations
The Maryland Hospital Association supports a proposal to amend telehealth regulations in Maryland. In a letter to Jake Whitaker, acting director of the Maryland Department of Health’s Office of Regulation and Policy Coordination, MHA’s Vice President of Government Affairs Jennifer Witten writes that the proposed regulations will help health care providers expand access to essential health care services and assist in meeting goals of the Maryland Total Cost of Care Model.

MHA Contact: Jennifer Witten , Vice President, Government Affairs
AMA Announces Reimagining Residency Grant Program
The American Medical Association distributed a request for proposals for its new Reimagining Residency five-year, $15-million grant program aimed at transforming residency training to better address workforce needs of the current and future health care system. The initiative will support innovations that provide meaningful and safe transitions from undergraduate medical education to graduate medical education, establish new curricular content and experiences to enhance readiness for practice, and foster well-being in training. Letters of Intent are due on February 1. Visit changeresed.org to learn more about the program.
Judge Issues Stay of Affordable Care Act Ruling
Late last month, the Texas district court judge who previously ruled the entire Affordable Care Act (ACA) unconstitutional issued a final judgement and stay of his decision. Both were granted at the request of 17 democratic attorneys general who intervened in the case and plan to appeal. The final judgement allows for immediate appeal of the decision, and the stay confirms that the ACA continues to remain in full effect while the ruling is appealed. The 17 attorneys general are expected to soon appeal the decision to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. The American Hospital Association plans to file an amicus brief in support of upholding the ACA. A suit brought by Maryland’s attorney general seeking declaratory judgment that the ACA is constitutional was heard in district court last month as well. A ruling on that suit is expected soon. Your Maryland Hospital Association will continue to provide updates as ACA litigation works its way through the courts.
Want to receive your Toward Better Health
newsletter via text message?
Click here to sign up.
Maryland Hospital Association | www.mhaonline.org