October 9, 2015
At the Ready
It's a little more than three months until Maryland's General Assembly kicks off its 2016 session, and preparations are well underway for what we expect will be a frenzied few months of lawmaking.
Last month, MHA's Executive Committee approved our 2016 Legislative Agenda - the three issues that are of highest importance to advance with legislators. They are: 
  • Protecting the $25 million annual spend-down of the Medicaid tax we secured during the 2015 session
  • Developing a comprehensive plan to address the gaps that prevent people from getting behavioral health care and securing funding for that solution
  • Halting attempts to raise the state's cap on non-economic damages and building support for a no-fault birth injury fund 
There are many other critical issues we'll take up this session, among them limited service hospitals, AARP's Caregiver Act, physician self-referral, telehealth, and of course the state budget.
To be successful, we'll need ammunition. That's why MHA is creating a raft of supporting materials that we'll use to advocate on your behalf. Infographics, leave-behinds for legislators, informational pocket cards, legislative brochures and position papers are among the arrows in MHA's quiver for the upcoming session. As they are completed, we will make them available to you as well.
As you know, advocacy is a team sport and I hope you and your team will find these materials useful when meeting with legislators or testifying before various committees.
In addition, on November 4, MHA will host our annual fall legislative briefing. This is an opportunity to share the strategies behind MHA's legislative agenda and to hear from longtime Annapolis insider Mike Johansen on how 2016's political landscape will affect those efforts. We'll also take your questions and discuss how MHA can help you advocate on our shared priorities.
The fall briefing is intended for government relations and legislative advocacy leads, public relations staff and anyone else who wants to hear about the hospital field's advocacy agenda. The event is free, but registration is required. It's our opportunity to get your teams on the same legislative page as we head together into what promises to be a difference-making session.

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MHA's 2016 Annual 
Membership Meeting

June 13 and 14, 2016
Four Seasons Hotel, Baltimore 

October 13
STARRZ: A Program for High Performing Employees
DHMH Temporarily Plugs IMD Gap
Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH) Secretary Van Mitchell this week dedicated $10 million to plug the gap in funding for psychiatric services caused by the sooner-than-expected end of a federal pilot program. The budget transfer is for fiscal year 2016 only, so a longer-term fix will continue to be sought. Hospitals are still required to contact no fewer than four acute care general hospitals to find open psychiatric beds prior to requesting authorization for admission to an institution for mental disease, but not required to use the bed registry when conducting that search.
Contact: Nora Hoban
OB Work Group Finalizing Report
The Work Group to Study Obstetric Access to Services, authorized by Senate Bill 187 in last year's General Assembly session, met last week to finalize the recommendations for its report, due to the governor and the General Assembly by December 1. The group voted on 12 recommendations in three focus areas:
  1. Collecting better data through annual surveys and more specific analyses
  2. Improving access by increasing Medicaid reimbursement and establishing a No-Fault Birth Injury Fund
  3. Encouraging better health through the replication and promotion of existing direct service programs such as Baltimore's B'More for Healthy Babies and Maryland's 211 information hotline
Webinar Focuses on HCAHPS Performance
Johns Hopkins Medicine is hosting a webinar Friday, October 16 at 2 p.m. on the findings of a national study that identified the patient-centered practices of 52 top-performing hospitals on the patient experience of care survey (HCAHPS). The webinar will detail the "technical" and "culture-change" efforts these hospitals used. To learn more about the Best Practices in Patient-Centered Care study, click here. For more on the webinar and to register, click here.
CMS Releases Final Rule for EHR
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services this week released a final rule with comment period modifying the reporting period for the Medicare and Medicaid Electronic Health Records Incentive Programs in 2015. The rule modifies the reporting period to 90 days to align with the calendar year. The rule also adds other flexibilities, including reducing the share of patients that must use the patient portal from 5 percent to at least one patient and modifying the summary of care requirements. "We are pleased that CMS released the long-awaited modifications rule...Hospitals will finally have the clarity they need to take steps to ensure they meet the revised requirements," said AHA President and CEO Rick Pollack in a statement. In addition, the rule defines Stage 3 "meaningful use" for the Medicare EHR Incentive Program, and says all participants will be required to meet Stage 3 beginning in 2018. Pollack called the release of the rule implementing Stage 3 "deeply disappointing." CMS seeks comments on certain provisions of Stage 3, in particular to support the transition to the Merit-based Incentive Payment System, which was established by the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015. The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology also released a companion rule that finalizes new certification criteria, standards and implementation specifications for EHR technology.
IHF World Hospital Congress in Chicago
For the first time in a dozen years, the International Hospital Federation's World Hospital Congress will be held in the United States. Over 700 are expected to attend the meeting in Chicago, which begins Tuesday, and half of them come from around the world. Hospital & Health Networks will post continuing coverage during the week.
Customized Programming Leverages Learning and Gets Results

The Maryland Healthcare Education Institute has responded to many requests by member organizations to bring our programming to their hospital campuses.

Looking for a Cutting Edge Provider for Blood and Associated Services?

For more than 60 years, Blood Bank of Delmarva (BBD) has provided blood and blood components to hospitals throughout the Delmarva region, helping avoid blood shortages and saving thousands of lives with assistance from more than 150,000 current donors.

ONC Finalizes Health IT Interoperability 'Roadmap'

The Department of Health and Human Services' Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology this week released a final "roadmap" for achieving a national health IT infrastructure that facilitates the secure exchange and use of electronic health information by 2024.

Tuesday, October 13
MHA Council on Clinical & Quality Issues meeting

Wednesday, October 14
Health Services Cost Review Commission meeting
MHA Council on Legislative & Regulatory Policy meeting

Thursday, October 15
MHA Financial Technical Work Group meeting
The Daily Record, By Gina Gallucci-White, October 2
Baltimore Business Journal, By Sarah Gantz, October 2
Modern Healthcare, By Joseph Conn, October 3
The Baltimore Sun, By Meredith Cohn, October 5
The Washington Post, By Fenit Nirappil, October 6
The Washington Post, By Josh Hicks, October 7
The Baltimore Sun, By Andrew Michaels, October 7