July 20, 2018
The Value of Transparency
During June's American Hospital Association Regional Policy Board meeting, one of the hot topics was price transparency, a burgeoning nationwide push by regulators, legislators, payers, and providers to empower health care consumers so they can make better-informed decisions about their care.
Price transparency is one of the pillars of the health care consumerism movement that has begun to take root and is now expanding. As people learn more about how their health care system works, they are no longer bound by geography or provider-driven decisions. They are in the driver's seat.
In many ways, this is a good thing. Price transparency helps people budget for care, minimizes unexpected bills, and potentially minimizes uncompensated care - all driving lower costs overall.
There are challenges, of course, such as the complexity of predicting health care costs for specific episodes and the need to provide consumers with accurate, timely, and balanced data. Not to mention that many health care decisions are made when individuals' analytical capacities are compromised.
These are some of the concerns with the Maryland Health Care Commission's Wear the Cost website, the primary manifestation of the commission's initiative to provide the public with information on the cost of select hospital procedures.
Not only are the data limited and outdated, but the tone of the website may create unreasonable expectations, suggesting that eliminating complications and lowering costs are as simple as making the choice to do so. Those of you on the front lines know that isn't the case.
This week, Wear the Cost was refreshed with new data and promoted via a social media push. The problems present during the site's launch persist and MHA will continue working constructively to encourage the commission to improve the content and the messaging.
Wear the Cost is the perfect example of why we have to get transparency right. Consumers need good, unbiased information. They also need information on what their own out-of-pocket costs will be, which can only come with knowledge of their covered benefits and cost-sharing requirements. Insurers and employers therefore have a role to play as well.
All health care stakeholders should support ways to deliver meaningful information that helps people make sound health care choices. The people must be at the center of their own health care journeys.

Bob Atlas
President and CEO

Hearings Scheduled on Reinsurance Regulations
The Maryland Health Benefit Exchange will hold a series of public hearings to learn more about what is needed to shape regulations to create a reinsurance program for the individual health insurance market. The Maryland Hospital Association will be participating in this process as well. This past spring, Gov. Larry Hogan and the Maryland General Assembly approved legislation to create a reinsurance program beginning in 2019. If approved by the federal government, the program is expected to reduce premium increases for plan years 2019 through 2023 in the individual health insurance market both on and off Maryland Health Connection, the state-based marketplace. The public hearings will be:  
  • July 26, 2-4 p.m., MHBE, 750 E. Pratt St., Baltimore, MD 21202
  • Aug. 2, 2-4 p.m., MHBE, 750 E. Pratt St., Baltimore, MD 21202
  • Aug. 9, 1-3 p.m., Maryland Department of Transportation, 7201 Corporate Center Drive, Hanover, MD 21076
  • Aug. 16, 2-4 p.m., MHBE, 750 E. Pratt St., Baltimore, MD 21202
  Contact: Maansi Raswant
CTO Application Deadline is Monday
Maryland Primary Care Program Care Transformation Organization (CTO) applicants must submit their application by Monday, July 23 at midnight. Decisions regarding approved CTOs will be made in the following weeks. Under the primary care program, CTOs will support participating physician practices' care transformation efforts by providing resources that can be challenging for many practices to offer, such as care managers, pharmacists, behavioral health counseling, social services, community health workers, and health education. CTOs are expected to play a critical role in shaping the way primary care is delivered in Maryland.
Primary care practices interested in joining are encouraged to begin looking at program materials and applications. The application period will be open from Wednesday, August 1, to Friday, August 31. Once the CTOs have been selected, the list of approved CTO options will be posted on the website under the CTO Comparison Tool . The tool will include details about each CTO to assist practices with making a comparison. Practices should explore the available options for CTO partnerships as part of their preparation for application. Resources are available for primary care practices interested in participating.
Applications Being Accepted for Sexual Assault Examiners
The Health Resources and Services Administration is accepting applications for its Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners Program through July 26. Non-profit hospitals are eligible to apply for nurse training to perform sexual assault forensic examinations that accommodate the physical and emotional needs of survivors. Click here for more information.
MHA Joins State Opioid Initiative
MHA will join a coalition of state, local, and national organizations to develop solutions to the opioid crisis in Maryland. Among the efforts, Rx Abuse Leadership Initiative (RALI) of Maryland will highlight safe disposal options for unused and unneeded medications, and spotlight solutions that are working when it comes to prevention, access to treatment information, and recovery. Visit the RALI website for details.
Positive Thinking Leading to Positive Action
The rapidly emerging science of positive psychology is vastly improving our understanding of specific strategies that studies show time and again lead to the highest levels of success (goal attainment) and satisfaction (patient and employee).

Prime's Value to Member Hospitals
Prime is the shared service/group purchasing subsidiary of the Maryland Hospital Association. Its goal is to help our member hospitals reduce the cost of care.

GAO Report Examines Characteristics of 340B, Non-340B Hospitals
The Government Accountability Office this week released a report examining the characteristics of hospitals that participate in the 340B drug savings program and hospitals that do not participate in the program.

Monday, July 23
MHA Certificate of Need and State Health Plan Work Group meeting

Tuesday, July 24
MHA Medicare Performance Adjustment Work Group meeting
The Baltimore Sun , By Allan Vought, July 13
The Daily Record , By Steve Lash, July 16
The Daily Record, By Sudin Thanawala, July 18
Baltimore Business Journal , By Morgan Eichensehr, July 19
NBC News , By Jessica Spitz, July 18
WBOC , July 18