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March 24, 2019
Would Medicare for All Suit Maryland?
Our nation has entered a new political season, and a vocal group of elected officials and presidential candidates are promoting a single-payer health care system, or Medicare for All.

Hospitals in Maryland, and nationwide, support universal coverage. And we cannot deny that our current system has flaws. Though, as David Brooks explained in plain language recently, moving to a single-payer system run by the federal government is impractical.

For one thing, half of Americans today have employer-provided health benefits that they like. Plus, Medicare nationally is not a generous payer so, as an AHA/FAH-commissioned report found, hospital income would drop dramatically. Added costs to taxpayers, intense politicization of health care decisions, and consumers’ loss of choice also are concerning.

I led a team that came to similar conclusions in 2013 when appraising Vermont’s first-in-the-nation proposal for single-payer health care on behalf of a group of health care providers and purchasers. The state’s legislature walked away from that plan as a result.

Would a national shift to Medicare for All suit Maryland? We do still have an uninsured population – about 1 out of every 20 people. And, at least under today’s model contract, Medicare is just about as good a payer – for regulated hospital services – as others.

Maryland’s foundation of all-payer rates and our progress in transforming care could ease the change. Though Medicare for All may not yield enough total income for all services to meet the health needs of all Marylanders. And the additional concerns of how a single-payer system operates would remain.

This is one of those important-not-urgent questions. We will consider it as the political and policy landscape warrants. You are part of that conversation. Let’s hear from you.
Bob Atlas
President & CEO
MHA Comments on Proposed MPA Efficiency Component
The Maryland Hospital Association (MHA), on behalf of the state’s hospital field, supports adopting the MPA Efficiency Component as an important safety net, but disputes the need for Medicare payment adjustments on January 1, 2020. In a comment letter , Brett McCone , Senior Vice President of Health Care Payment at MHA, writes that adopting the MPA Efficiency component will remove Medicare savings as a limiting factor in the all-payer update. MHA strongly advocates that a Medicare payment adjustment on January 1, 2020, intended to achieve future Medicare savings, is not immediately required.
Maryland Makes Significant Reductions in Several Types of HAIs
Maryland has made significant reductions in several types of healthcare-associated infections (HAI), according to the 2017 National and State Healthcare-Associated Infection (HAI) Progress Report released Friday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The state’s hospitals are performing better than the national baseline in:

  • Surgical Site Infections: Colon Surgery (-20 percent)
  • Central Line-Associated Bloodstream Infections (-10 percent)
  • Catheter-Associated Urinary Tract Infections (-10 percent)
  • Clostridioides difficile (-8percent)
How Some Calif. Hospitals Improved Quiet at Night Scores
Some hospitals in California reported an uptick in quiet at night patient satisfaction scores after they began distributing kits that included ear plugs, eye masks, and a door hanger notifying visitors to limit noise, according to the Hospital Quality Institute . Hospital leadership must make noise reduction a priority, the report states. Findings also show patients and families are the best source of information about noise issues and should be included in ongoing improvement and planning.
Maryland General Assembly Update
With two weeks left in the 2019 legislative session, the Maryland General Assembly is making progress toward adopting the state’s fiscal year 2020 budget. A conference committee to reconcile differences between the House and Senate versions of the budget was appointed Friday. After the Department of Legislative Services recommended delaying the entire $40 million Medicaid Deficit Assessment in Governor Larry Hogan’s budget, the House included a $20 million and the Senate included a $25 million reduction. Your Maryland Hospital Association (MHA) team is advocating that the conference committee adopt the Senate position of a $25 million reduction for fiscal year 2020. MHA’s Certificate of Need legislation is headed toward passage, and the team is working to wrap up other priority issues ahead of Sine Die. For more information on bills MHA is tracking, click here .
Bond Program Application Process Opening, Webinar Scheduled
The 2019 Maryland Hospital Association Hospital Bond Program application process opens on March 29 providing an opportunity to apply for state allocated funding to complete private capital projects. Hospitals applying for funding under this program must request the appropriate approvals/exemptions from both the Maryland Health Care Commission and Health Services Cost Review Commission no later than April 26. Additional information and application documents will be available soon on MHA’s website. If you have questions, please contact  Brett McCone Jennifer Witten , or  Jane Krienke . MHA will host a webinar that provides an overview of the 2019 Hospital Bond Program on March 25 at 10:30 a.m. Please register for the webinar here
HIMSS Event Focuses on Care Transformation
The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society in partnership with the Maryland Telehealth Alliance, will hold its spring educational event, “Coordinating Care Across the Continuum,” on April 12 at 8 a.m. The event, at Ten Oaks Ballroom in Clarksville, will focus on initiatives designed to aid health care transformation and improved outcomes for leveraging data sharing for care coordination across many care settings.
USDA, Rural Maryland Council Hosts Workshop
The USDA Rural Development and the Rural Maryland Council will host an informational workshop March 28 at 10 a.m., about the Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grant program. This program, being held at the Maryland Department of Agriculture in Annapolis, helps rural areas acquire the technology, equipment, and training necessary to virtually connect with educators and medical professionals for remote services. In 2019, grant awards will be between $50,000 and $500,000 with a 15 percent required match.
Grant to Fund Victim Services Interpreter Bank
The Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention announced a $953,519 grant for Ayuda, an organization that provides legal, social, and language services to help crime victims who are non-English speaking or deaf and hard of hearing. This award was part of the nearly $50 million in Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) grants announced by Governor Hogan on January 11. VOCA funding is aimed at improving services, safety, and security for crime victims and their families. For more information about these services and how an organization can benefit from incorporating language access, contact interpreterbank@ayuda.com .
Save the Date: MHA's 2019 Annual Membership Meeting
Save the date for your Maryland Hospital Association’s 2019 Annual Membership Meeting. An evening reception is scheduled for June 10, and the general session is scheduled for June 11, from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Hear Captain “Sully” Sullenberger, and Adam Boehler, senior adviser to the Secretary for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and Director of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation, share their unique perspectives.
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. 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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