MHA Update Newsletter
February 6, 2015
Save the Dates!

 June 1 and 2, 2015

MHA Annual Meeting
Four Seasons

Hotel Baltimore


MHEI Programs & Webinars

February 11 - 12

C.O.R.E. Leadership


Quick Links


Show and Tell

There's a stirring scene in the film Apollo 13, where the three astronauts are working with Mission Control to return their hobbled spacecraft to earth. Kevin Bacon's character, Jack Swigert, tells Tom Hanks' Jim Lovell that the return trajectory is too shallow and without an adjustment, they will skip off the atmosphere and never return home.


It's Hanks' response that's relevant here: "All right," he said. "There's a thousand things that have to happen in order. We are on number eight. You're talking about number six-hundred and ninety-two."


For a couple of reasons, this scene popped into my head this week as we were working on some General Assembly strategies. For many of our issues, the angle of approach must be subtle and precise, or the point could be lost on legislators who are grappling with many, many complex issues that affect all Marylanders. At the same time, success in Annapolis requires multiple successive, deliberate steps. And with dozens of new faces in the legislature, our early work, "step number eight," has been to focus on education and information.


To help with that effort, MHA is beginning to build a library of infographics - brief illustrations of an issue, usually limited to one page. This way, legislators can quickly absorb the facts and perspectives that support our positions on everything from the Medicaid hospital tax to medical liability, behavioral health, and more. Infographics on behavioral health and the Medicaid tax are now available on MHA's website, and we'll add new ones as they are completed.


I encourage you to make use of these when talking with stakeholders like legislators, hospital trustees, community partners, the public - anyone who should know or who asks about why we take the positions we take. Information is power, and the more people who are empowered with the reasoning behind our positions on the issues, the more power we will have in Annapolis.
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In This Issue
At Work in Annapolis
MHA is continuing its work in Annapolis to educate many of the newly elected members to both the House of Delegates and Senate on hospital priorities. Bill hearings are now in full swing, with MHA weighing in on several this week.    

On Wednesday, MHA submitted written support for SB37-HB108 Tobacco Taxes - Healthy Maryland Initiative, which would fund tobacco cessation programs by increasing the state's tax on cigarettes, other tobacco products and license application fees. MHA supports using revenues raised from the tax to enhance the Tobacco Use Prevention and Cessation Program. Under the state's modernized Medicare waiver, this and other community-based programs are crucial to keeping Marylanders healthy and avoiding unnecessary hospital utilization. Strengthening the program by raising the state's tobacco tax will be key to the ability of hospitals and others to save the state money and keep Marylanders healthier.


MHA also testified Wednesday in support of SB74 Task Force to Study Maternal Mental Health, to establish a task force to study and make recommendations on legislation, policy initiatives, funding requirements and budgetary priorities that can address maternal mental health needs in the state. Addressing maternal mental health needs is a key part of a broader push to examine and improve the state's behavioral health challenges. The safety net for Marylanders suffering from mental illnesses is fraying, with the few dedicated mental health facilities in Maryland routinely operating near or above capacity; the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration has identified dozens of regions in the state that have an inadequate supply of mental health professionals.


On Thursday, MHA submitted written opposition to HB03 Prescription Drug Monitoring Program - Prescribers and Dispensers - Required Query, requiring prescribers (such as doctors) and dispensers (such as pharmacies) to query the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program for prescription monitoring data before every prescription or dispensation of a monitored drug, for every patient. The Prescription Drug Monitoring Program was established by the state to ensure the safe and effective use of prescription drugs, and to help health care providers access up-to-date information on drugs that contain controlled substances and are dispensed to patients. Health care providers use the program to manage the benefits and risks of controlled substance medications, to identify potentially harmful drug interactions, and to query the system when appropriate. However, mandating a query prior to each and every interaction with a patient threatens to create the unintended consequence of delaying or even preventing a patient's access to appropriate medications. 


We continue to work aggressively on the budget and other key priorities. 
MHA Seeking Input on UTI Definition
Clinical and quality leaders Thursday received a request for comment on a proposed definition for Urinary Tract Infection (UTI). This request is part of an effort to address the variability in clinical criteria used to define certain diagnoses. Standardization of these definitions will support hospitals' ability to effectively collaborate on care improvement, as well as accurately measure improvement under the modernized waiver and the Maryland Hospital Acquired Condition payment policy. To support this work, MHA has convened four multidisciplinary work groups from hospitals and health systems. The first work group developed a proposed definition on UTI and is seeking comment by February 13. In the coming weeks, comments will be sought for definitions of renal failure, obstetrical hemorrhage and respiratory failure. Final definitions will be disseminated to all hospitals with the request that medical executive committees consider them for adoption. Materials from each of the work groups can be found on the MHA website.

Contact: Justin Ziombra
Register for Medicaid Readmissions Webinar
Transition logo The first webinar from MHA's new Learning Network, Updating Readmission Strategies for 2015 - A Focus on Medicaid, will be held February 25, from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. Under the auspices of the Transitions: Handle with Care readmissions reduction initiative, MHA has launched a Learning Network to implement AHRQ's Hospital Guide to Reducing Medicaid Readmissions. This initial webinar will highlight the need to focus on strategies to reduce readmissions for Medicaid patients, provide an overview of Maryland's data, and introduce tools from the guide that are available to support hospitals' efforts. Register hereAdditional webinars will be held March 11 and March 25, from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. An in-person meeting is scheduled for April 1.

Contact: Sheena Siddiqui
MHEI Increasing Membership Value
MHEI new logoAs MHEI continues to hone its programming and develop services based on member needs, we also are able to offer some services at no charge. Yesterday's Joint Commission Overview is an example, in which regulatory information from The Joint Commission was made available to our members. Another complimentary program for members is Population Health for Managers on May 14. This program will draw connections between population health and the work of mid-level managers responsible for making their departments more efficient and effective. Two people from each MHEI member organization are eligible to attend for free to determine whether they would like to consider having MHEI bring the program to their own facility. A third free program will be offered in September.

Contact: Mark Rulle
The Week Ahead

Monday, February 9

Carmela Coyle presents to Leadership Baltimore County


Tuesday, February 10

MHA Council on Clinical & Quality Issues meeting


Wednesday, February 11

Health Services Cost Review Commission meeting


Thursday, February 12

MHA Financial Technical Work Group meeting

In Case You Missed It

Obama Proposes $431 Billion in Cuts

President Obama this week proposed $431.3 billion in reductions to Medicare over 10 years, of which $349.8 billion would come from providers and $83.8 billion from structural reforms, as part of his fiscal year 2016 budget request to Congress. The budget request would increase Medicaid funding overall by $7.7 billion over 10 years, but cut the program in certain areas. The American Hospital Association is analyzing the proposal and will share more information when the administration makes it available. More details can be found in AHA's special bulletin.

Top News from This Week



Hogan Proposes Tax Relief in Four Areas
The Baltimore Sun, By Erin Cox, Timothy B. Wheeler and Michael Dresser, February 4, 2015


Larry Hogan Vows to Prioritize Maryland's Heroin Epidemic
Baltimore Business Journal, By Sarah Gantz, February 4, 2015


Infection Most Likely Cause of Hospital Readmission After Surgery
U.S. News & World Report, By Steven Reinberg, February 3, 2015


Legislators Consider $95M Tobacco Tax Bill
The Daily Record, By Bryan P. Sears, February 3, 2015


Health Programs Endangered by Declining Federal Support
Maryland Reporter, By Rebecca Lessner, February 3, 2015


Budget Plan Sees Savings in Changes to Medicare
The New York Times, By Robert Pear, February 2, 2015


OPINION: Looming Crisis: A Center Maryland Series on Access to Maternity Care
Center Maryland, By Senator Catherine Pugh, February 1, 2015


Proposed Law Would Criminalize Selling Heroin That Leads to Overdose Deaths
Carroll County Times, By Heather Cobun, February 1, 2015