March 9, 2018
As I was going through the interview process for MHA's President & CEO position, many of you pointed out to me that MHA had a staff that was second to none, one that was working hard to bridge the gap between the position's vacancy last year and my starting this week. Now that my first week is coming to a close, I can see what you mean. This is a group of people who love what they do, and who are dedicated to the cause of Maryland's hospitals and health systems.
But that is because you, each and every hospital leader, have set the tone and vision for what health care in Maryland should be, and how your association should pursue that vision. MHA truly is a member-driven organization; from the task forces and work groups to the councils and the Executive Committee, it is heartening to join an organization having such widespread participation among its members. At the heart of your work is, of course, the All Payer Model, so critical for four decades and even more so now as we work to enhance it for the next decade. This staff, and I as the new leader, understand its importance. There are other issues of course, especially as the legislature is active in Annapolis. But each of those in some way of course revolves around or impacts the success of the All Payer Model that is the foundation of health care in Maryland.
I suspect that HHS Secretary Alex Azar had Maryland in mind when he told the Federation of American Hospitals this week that the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation "vests HHS with tremendous power to experiment with new payment models."
Likewise, you vest Maryland's unique system with tremendous power; the power to make a difference in your communities as the Maryland experiment continues and adapts, just as hospitals are doing. I look forward to meeting each of you in person, and to working with you to keep Maryland and its hospitals at the forefront of innovation.

Bob Atlas

At Work in Annapolis
This week, the Maryland Senate announced its budget decisions, which included a $30 million sick tax reduction and full funding for all three of Maryland's Institutions for Mental Disease. Additionally, budget language was included to fully fund community behavioral health provider rates at 3.5 percent, in accordance with last year's Keep the Door Open Act. MHA will advocate for the House to concur with the Senate's version of the budget. Today, MHA testified in support of the No-Fault Birth Injury Fund bill in a joint hearing. This year's bill has made positive steps forward with bipartisan support and double the number of Senate sponsors from last year. The perennial self-referral bill, which would have exempted one oncology group practice from Maryland's strict self-referral law, was officially withdrawn by the House and Senate sponsors this week. Throughout the legislative session, you can track MHA's activities via our dashboard, which provides an overview of the previous week and a look at important hearings and events for the following week.
Cardin to Host Opioid Discussion
U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin will lead a discussion on opioid abuse on Monday, March 19, at Anne Arundel Medical Center. The event is intended to advance strategies that could help mitigate Maryland's opioid crisis. The event is from 10:30 a.m. - 11:45 a.m. at the Doordan Institute - 7th Floor, Belcher Pavilion at 2000 Medical Parkway in Annapolis. Seating is limited. RSVP to Heather Campbell  or call 410-962-4436.
ED Opioid Visits Spike
The CDC this week released a Vital Signs report showing that emergency department visits for suspected opioid overdoses increased 30 percent from third quarter 2016 to third quarter 2017, in all parts of the U.S. The report focuses on how all Americans can use emergency department data as a warning system and help prevent opioid overdoses and deaths. On Tuesday, March 13, from 2 -3:30 p.m., the CDC and the U.S. Surgeon General will host a webinar, "Coordinating Clinical and Public Health Responses to Opioid Overdoses Treated in Emergency Departments." Details are available here .
MHEI to Offer Mindfulness Program
The Maryland Healthcare Education Institute is holding a program May 3 to help clinicians with the practice of mindfulness. During the Mindfulness for Leadership Excellence workshop, participants will learn simple yet powerful mindfulness-based exercises that will help them become more focused, clear, creative, and compassionate. The workshop will be led by Heather Stang, a meditation teacher and yoga therapist who teaches nurses, physicians, and mental health professionals techniques to improve mental focus, executive functioning, and cultivate emotional balance, while improving the quality of patient and practitioner self-care. An early bird discount is available to MHEI members who register and pay by April 2. Click here to register for the event.
MHCC Seeks Comments on Cardiac Care
As it revises and updates the State Health Plan, the Maryland Health Care Commission has opened the plan's Cardiac Chapter for informal public comment . The chapter covers cardiac surgery and percutaneous coronary intervention services. Comments may be submitted until 5 p.m. March 26 and should be sent to Eileen Fleck, Chief, Acute Care Policy and Planning, at 4160 Patterson Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21215. They may also be emailed to Eileen Fleck or faxed to 410-358-1311.
Bond Program Application & Webinar
The 2018 MHA Bond Program application process will open on March 29. The Hospital Bond Program provides 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 Friday, April 20. Applications must be submitted by Friday, June 22, including HSCRC and MHCC correspondence and other letters of support. Application materials will be available on the MHA website, with updates to the project selection scoring guidelines and other application materials. Application forms and other supporting documentation are submitted via hospital-specific SharePoint site. If you have questions, contact MHA's  Brett McCone Jennifer Witten , or  Jane Krienke . MHA will host a webinar that provides an overview of the 2018 Hospital Bond Program on Monday, March 26 at 10:30 a.m. Click here for more details and to register.
Patient Records Seized in Montgomery County
This week, federal search warrants were executed to seize all patient records for a medical provider in Montgomery County, according to the Maryland Department of Health. The Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services has alerted local hospital emergency departments and there will be an urgent need to ensure continuity of care for patients, as the prescribing physician's CDS prescriber license was relinquished. Prescription Drug Monitoring Program data show that a majority of the affected patients reside in Montgomery County (58 percent), and the most common out-of-state location is West Virginia (22 percent). Displaced patients are being directed to contact the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services via a notification placed on the door, as per standard protocol. In addition, the Maryland Department of Health is working closely with Montgomery County HHS to ensure that patient needs are met during this time.
Tools Available for Patient Safety Awareness Week
Patient Safety Awareness Week (March 11-17) is an opportunity for hospitals and health systems to share with their communities their good work and resources on patient safety, safety culture and patient engagement. Digital tools and resources to help hospitals tell their stories are available from the American Hospital Association. In addition, the Institute for Healthcare Improvement and the National Patient Safety Foundation are holding a Twitter chat March 16 at noon. Hospitals and health systems are encouraged to participate.
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Senate Hearing Focuses on State Strategies to Address Opioid Crisis
The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee this week held the sixth in a series of hearings on the opioid crisis, which focused on state strategies to address the crisis. Witnesses included Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and Oregon Gov. Kate Brown.

Tuesday, March 13
MHA Executive Committee meeting

Wednesday, March 14
Health Services Cost Review Commission meeting

Thursday, March 15
MHA Technical Work Group meeting
The Baltimore Sun , By Andrea K. McDaniels, March 2
The Daily Record , By Tim Curtis, March 2
Cumberland Times-News , March 5
Washington Business Jou rnal, By Tina Reed, March 2
The Daily Record , By Tim Curtis, March 5
The Baltimore Sun , By Ian Duncan, March 7
The Baltimore Sun , By Rachael Pacella, March 6
Baltimore Business Journal , By Morgan Eichensehr, March 6
The Baltimore Sun , By John Fritze, March 7