August 21, 2015
Happy News Amid the Heat
Two recent developments offer hope that the coming legislative session might be financially fruitful for hospitals.

Last week, the Health Services Cost Review Commission offered an exciting piece of midsummer good news, identifying $21 million in savings to the stateā€™s Medicaid program in fiscal year 2016. That exceeds the $16.7 million in general fund savings required in this year's Budget Reconciliation and Financing Act and, assuming the departments of Health & Mental Hygiene and Budget and Management agree with the findings, should preclude any additional spending reductions that would have been needed to achieve that target.

Hearty congratulations are in order. Not only does this success reflect the monumental and positive change you have effected at your organization in the shift from volume to value, but it is an important building block for hospitals' legislative priorities heading into next year's General Assembly session. It demonstrates to legislators and to Gov. Larry Hogan that, indeed, hospitals are part of Maryland's budget solution and are capable partners when it comes to saving money.

One of the goals of the modernized Medicare waiver, and one of the driving forces behind hospitals' support of it, has been that it would help achieve savings for all payers, including the state and its Medicaid program. In the first year, that goal has been realized - in large part by means of the innovative things you are doing to transform care delivery.

The second development is that the legislature's chief budget analyst said last Friday that Maryland's revenues ended up being about $200 million over projections for the past fiscal year. While the boon is largely due to income taxes on capital gains, this is positive news for the state budget - the additional revenue means the state will have an estimated $146 million to carry over into next year's budget process.

Of course this all comes with the caveat that anything can happen during the legislative session as fiscal demands are made and met. Still, the beyond-expectation Medicaid savings bolsters MHA's ongoing advocacy for sustained reductions in the hospital Medicaid tax beyond the $25 million annual spend-down that the legislature committed to earlier this year.
 
As you know, reduction and elimination of the nearly $400 million annual Medicaid tax has been one of the hospital field's top priorities for several years, as it artificially inflates hospital costs, impacting the state's ability to achieve required savings under the waiver. The spend-down commitment was an important first step, but these developments provide additional fuel for our fight against this long-standing burden.


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SAVE THE DATE
MHA's 2016 Annual 
Membership Meeting

June 13 and 14, 2016
Four Seasons Hotel, Baltimore 
MHAOnline.org

Changes Coming to MD H2E
Earlier this week, Maryland Hospitals for a Healthy Environment (MD H2E) announced that it will close its environmental health care sustainability initiative on December 31. The organization's sustainable foods program now will be integrated fully within the research division of the Center for Integrative Medicine (CIM), an inter-departmental center within the University of Maryland School of Medicine. Regarding other aspects of MD H2E's work, over the next four months, MD H2E will disseminate information to answer questions that may arise regarding resources, contacts, vendors, education, and other opportunities. 
Recommendations Seek to Stem Opioid Misuse
Next week, the state's Maryland Heroin and Opioid Emergency Task Force is expected to release a set of statewide recommendations to curb opioid misuse in Maryland. Included will be a recommendation that hospitals standardize and improve opioid prescribing practices. To help with that effort, MHA has asked that all acute care hospitals commit to implementing the Maryland Emergency Department Opioid Prescribing Guidelines. If your hospital has not yet committed to the guidelines, the deadline is August 28. If you have any questions or need a new commitment letter, please contact Patricia Ross at pross@mhaonline.org.
Meeting Will Address ICD-10's Impact on MHAC
An MHA-hosted meeting will help hospital staff understand how the transition from ICD-9 to ICD-10 will affect the Maryland Hospital Acquired Conditions (MHAC) payment policy. Featuring officials from 3M and the Health Services Cost Review Commission, the meeting is set for September 11 from 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. at MHA's Elkridge offices, with a webinar simulcast for those who can't attend (register here).  The session is the result of quarterly meetings MHA has convened to request changes to the grouper logic used in the MHAC program. Quality leads, infection preventionists, senior coding professionals and other staff who work to reduce complications are invited to attend. For more information contact Justin Ziombra at jziombra@mhaonline.org or 410-540-5056.
MHEI Conference Is a Perk for Physician Leaders
Physician leaders who participated in last year's MHEI Physician Leadership Initiative are invited to this year's fall leadership conference as a continuation of their exploration into health care leadership in Maryland.  

Prime Offers Lighting Retrofit Solutions
Lighting accounts for 30 to 60 percent of annual electric costs for many facilities, and many new advances in lighting technology can help your organization conserve energy and save money.

CMS Extends Comment Deadline for Hospital Star Rating System
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has extended to Sept. 14 the deadline for comments on its proposed star rating system for overall hospital-level quality. 

THE WEEK AHEAD
Wednesday, August 26
- MHA Joint Quality Finance Work Group meeting
TOP NEWS FROM THE WEEK
The Baltimore Sun, By Sathvik Namburar, August 19, 2015
 
The Daily Record, By Daniel Leaderman, August 18, 2015
 
The Baltimore Sun, By Jean Marbella, August 17, 2015
 
The Wall Street Journal, By Laura Landro, August 17, 2015
 
The Washington Post, By Brian Witte, August 14, 2015
 
Modern Healthcare, By Joseph Conn, August 15, 2015