April 28, 2019
Medicare Changes
The past two weeks have seen a lot of Medicare-related news. For starters, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released a series of proposed Medicare payment rules for federal fiscal year 2020, including:

  • 2.5% increase to skilled nursing facility payments
  • 2.5% increase to inpatient rehabilitation facilities payment
  • 1.7% increase to inpatient psychiatric hospital rate
  • 0.9% increase to long-term care hospital rate
  • 2.7% increase to hospice rate
  • 3.7% increase to inpatient hospital payments

While the inpatient hospital rates don’t directly apply to Maryland, some updates will impact providers here and could influence the thinking of our payment regulators. And, the changes do directly impact our post-acute care partners — altering the nature of payments and adding quality reporting requirements. We will continue to assess how all these policy changes may affect Maryland’s hospitals and health systems. We’re actively in discussions with the state regulators to mitigate potential issues.

We also learned last week that the Medicare trust fund , which covers hospital care, is projected to be exhausted by 2026; and that Medicare spending is expected to reach 5.9% of gross domestic product by 2038 — up from 3.7% last year. Finally, CMS announced several new primary care payment models

These moves indicate that CMS is pushing the shift to value-based care. As always, we’ll keep you informed and share our ongoing analysis.
Bob Atlas
President & CEO
New Tool Intended to Help Patients, Doctors Communicate
Data from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality show that patients forget or don’t understand about 80% of what their doctors tell them during an office visit. To combat this disparity, AHRQ created a novel tool to improve doctor-patient communication. Question Builder is intended to increase patient engagement, guide patients on the right questions to ask during an office visit, and help patients better understand what their doctors tell them. Additional resources can be found here .
Applicants Sought for Alzheimer's Disease and Related Disorders Council
The Virginia I. Jones Alzheimer's Disease and Related Disorders Council is seeking applicants for numerous positions, which are appointed by the Governor. The council is co-staffed by the Maryland Department of Health (MDH) and the Maryland Department of Aging (MDOA). The council meets quarterly and is comprised of 21 members, including members of the General Assembly, representatives from MDH and MDOA, representatives of the Alzheimer's Association, family caregivers, health and human service professionals, researchers, and an elder law attorney.

Applications are being accepted for:
  • Seven health care professionals with relevant professional experience
  • Three human service professionals with relevant professional experience
  • One elder law attorney with relevant professional experience
  • Two research professionals with relevant professional experience
  • Two family caregivers of individuals with Alzheimer's disease or a related disorder

Applications are due May 17; for more information contact Kim Bennardi .
MHEI: Boosting HCAHPS — Creating the Ultimate Patient Experience
Plan to join the Maryland Healthcare Education Institute on May 23 to learn about ideas to improve patient experience and health outcomes. Boosting HCAHPS — Creating the Ultimate Patient Experience is an interactive workshop. Participants will explore the critical components of relationship-centered care, including empathy, motivational interviewing, and shared decision-making. Learn more and register here .
MHA Supports National Prescription Drug Take Back Day
The Maryland Hospital Association supported National Prescription Drug Take Back Day on Saturday, as part of RALI Maryland’s coalition. A key measure to help curb the state’s opioid crisis — a key priority for the state’s hospitals and health systems — Drug Take Back Day is an opportunity for Marylanders to safely dispose of unused and expired medications.

MHA participated in a RALI Maryland event Thursday in Baltimore. “Safe removal of unused or expired prescription drugs from your home is a critical step in ensuring the safety of your family and community,” says Bob Atlas, President & CEO, MHA. “Maryland’s hospitals and health systems encourage you to participate in Take Back Day and are committed to helping you safely use, store and dispose of medications in order to prevent accidental overdoses and improper use.”
Boehler, Sullenberger, Tamber to Address MHA Annual Meeting
Registration is now open 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. Plan to attend to hear keynote speaker Captain “Sully” Sullenberger, a safety expert and author known for the successful water landing called the “Miracle on the Hudson.” Adam Boehler, senior adviser to the Secretary for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and director of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation, discusses new models with MHA’s SVP Government Affairs & Policy, Nicole Stallings, and Dr. Pritpal Tamber, founder of the Creating Health Collaborative and former physician editor of TEDMED, speaks about social determinants of health.
Want to receive your Toward Better Health
newsletter via text message?
Click here to sign up.
Maryland Hospital Association | www.mhaonline.org