August 28, 2015
On the Front Lines of the Opioid Fight
Maryland's hospitals are again in the trenches, battling an enemy that has been steadily growing stronger and knows no racial, economic, age or gender boundaries.
Opioid misuse in Maryland is an epidemic. Last year, nearly 900 Marylanders died from opioid misuse, including 578 from heroin alone. And the problem is worsening; the 2014 data represent a 22 percent increase in these deaths from the previous year and a 76 percent increase since 2010.  
Earlier this month, we sent you information about standardized opioid prescribing guidelines for hospital emergency departments and asked that your organization commit to implementing the guidelines and to updating MHA on your progress.
I'm pleased to say that we have achieved unanimous commitment to this effort from Maryland's 48 acute care hospitals, and that the MHA prescribing guidelines were among a series of recommendations in a report from the Maryland Heroin and Opioid Emergency Task Force that was made public this week.
Maryland's hospitals are always at the ready - whether it's seasonal flu, a sweeping Ebola outbreak, or the ongoing, pervasive opioid problem. The dedication to help your communities and all Marylanders is, simply, part of your DNA. If anyone needs evidence, the speed at which MHA received confirmation of your commitment to the prescribing guidelines was breathtaking.
There were few, if any questions. Most of what we got was a straightforward, "How can I help."
Sometimes, when I take a few steps back from all the deep policy dives, complex legislative negotiations and intricate data analyses, I have a chance to marvel at the work you do each and every day. Your nurses, doctors and other health professionals are there 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, to fight for Marylanders, and against the darkest things humanity throws at you.
And time and again, you rise to the challenge. You are the white hats. You are the good guys.
While stemming the tide of opioid misuse will demand action from all who touch the lives of those affected by this disease - law enforcement professionals, legislators, health care providers, long-term addiction rehabilitation specialists, behavioral health experts, and friends and families - hospitals will play an integral role.
As in other cases, Maryland's leaders again called on hospitals to help during dark times. You have answered the call. Not because it's politically savvy or because there's a revenue stream associated with it, but because helping people is who you are; it's in your DNA.
Thank you.

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MHA's 2016 Annual 
Membership Meeting

June 13 and 14, 2016
Four Seasons Hotel, Baltimore

September 1
MHEI Management Boot Camp
Hospitals Partner to Prevent Child ID Theft
Maryland's hospitals are partnering with the Office of the Attorney General, as well as pediatricians and key legislators, on a new public awareness campaign to protect kids from identity theft. The campaign, which kicks off publicly with a Sept. 3 press conference and website launch, is the result of an issue raised during the 2015 General Assembly session by Del. Craig Zucker, who had heard concerns about child ID theft and turned to hospitals to help inform parents of the proactive measures they can take to prevent it. Pediatricians, which like hospitals are trusted advisors for new families, have also signed on to help spread the word, along with Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh. You can stream the press conference live at 11 a.m. Sept. 3 at or get more information on the new kIDsafe website.
Contact: David Simon
MHA Announces New Behavioral Health Task Force
The General Assembly this year passed legislation that established the Joint Committee on Behavioral Health and Opioid Use Disorders, made up of five senators and five delegates, to examine and develop solutions to address holes in the state's behavioral health safety net. They will focus on issues cited in several bills, including MHA's bill to create a Blue Ribbon Commission on behavioral health. To assist the joint committee, MHA has created a member task force of hospital-based experts in mental health and substance abuse to provide strategic guidance. Steven C. Snelgrove, President of Howard County General Hospital, is leading the task force. Click here to see the full roster. The first meeting of the joint committee is September 9 in Annapolis. Members will be briefed on the availability and funding of behavioral health services in the state, the Department of Health & Mental Hygiene's Overdose Response Program, and addiction. MHA's task force will meet September 10 to review the joint committee's activity, identify and discuss key issues, and review its charge.  
Contact: Sheena Siddiqui
Meeting Will Address ICD-10 Issues
MHA will host a meeting with selected payers to provide hospital staff the opportunity to ask questions about the October 1 ICD-9 to ICD-10 transition. The meeting will feature representatives from Novitas, CareFirst, Amerigroup, ValueOptions, and the Department of Health &d Mental Hygiene. Financial and billing leads, coders and staff who determine patient eligibility and procure authorizations are encouraged to attend, though participation should be limited to two or three representatives per hospital due to space constraints. The meeting will be September 8 from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. at MHA's Elkridge offices.

A separate meeting, with 3M and the Health Services Cost Review Commission, will be held on September 11 from 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. to discuss the ICD-10 transition as it pertains to Potentially Preventable Complications tabulation and the Maryland Hospital Acquired Conditions payment program. For more information about either meeting, contact Justin Ziombra.
CDC Updates Ebola PPE Guidance
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued updated guidance regarding personal protective equipment for health care professionals caring for suspected and confirmed Ebola patients in U.S. health care facilities. The changes clarify the use of fluid-resistant and impermeable gowns and coveralls, and provide specifications to assist facilities in selecting and ordering the recommended garments. The updates also provide additional explanation related to PPE for confirmed Ebola patients. For more information, see the updated PPE Frequently Asked Questions.
MHCC to Fund Telehealth Technology Pilot
The Maryland Health Care Commission (MHCC) is expected to award, on a competitive basis, up to three grants of approximately $30,000 each for a telehealth technology pilot. Awardees would demonstrate the impact of using telehealth technology to improve the overall health and patient experience of the population being served, while also providing the best care possible and lowering costs. Funding requires a 2:1 financial match rate. Grant applications are due to MHCC by September 25. Click here for details.
MHEI Physician Leadership Initiative Cohort II
Several years ago, chief medical officers from across the state met to discuss the need to develop the next generation of physician leaders.

PRIME Offers Capital and Construction Solutions
Prime, through its affiliation with MedAssets, would like to introduce you to MedAssets Capital and Construction Solutions, which deliver end-to-end capabilities to help you complete successful, on-time and on-budget construction or renovation projects.

AHA Webinar to Review RAC Survey Data and Policy Updates
Hospital representatives are invited to learn more about recent policy activity affecting the Medicare Recovery Audit Contractor program and review results from the AHA's latest RACTrac survey during a webinar on Tuesday, September 15 at 2 p.m.

Thursday, September 3
Prime Board meeting
The Baltimore Sun, By Jonathan Pitts, August 23
The Washington Post, By Lenny Bernstein, August 23
Southern Maryland Online, By Guy Leonard, August 24
Washington Business Journal, By Tina Reed, August 24
The Washington Post, By Josh Hicks, August 25
The Baltimore Sun, By Jean Marbella, August 25