November 6, 2015
Unified in Annapolis
If the dominant theme of the past legislative session was one of change - 70 new delegates and senators, a new governor and dozens of new administrative leads - the coming year promises far less novelty, but perhaps way more politics.
 
MHA's longtime government relations advisor, Mike Johansen, with the Rifkin law firm, shared that insight with dozens of hospital representatives at MHA's annual Fall Briefing this week. The thinking is that the omnipresence of presidential political news and Maryland congressional races, along with a contested mayoral race in Baltimore City, could affect the 2016 legislative session. Campaign activities in Maryland, including political speech, literature and live events, will intensify throughout the end of session on April 11, leading to the Maryland primary election set for April 26.
 
This is a concern for hospitals, which in addition to our own legislative agenda, will also be playing defense on a number of bills. This year, MHA will continue to advocate for:
 
-          Elimination of the hidden tax on hospital care (the Medicaid deficit assessment)
-          Development of an integrated behavioral health system
-          Improving the state's medical liability environment
 
In addition to the outsized role politics may play, the second year of Gov. Larry Hogan's administration is the first time Marylanders will have a chance to see his full team in action, setting forth proposals that support the governor's vision. That likely means many proposed reforms - of the makeup and organization of state agencies and of the overall state budget itself.
 
The state budget is the defining political statement of Gov. Hogan's priorities, as the legislature cannot add funds to sectors they believe may have been shortchanged. This dynamic will have a huge impact on portions of the budget, like Medicaid funding, that directly affect the work you do and our collective success under the modernized Medicare waiver.
 
That said, this year the state is projecting a surplus of several hundred million dollars, the first time in a decade there isn't a structural deficit going into the legislative session. That's a good starting point as we fight for the resources you need to transform care in your communities. But there will be many interest groups clamoring for those dollars - educators, transportation advocates, reduced-tax interests and more - so a budget in the black does not necessarily make our path toward success any easier.
 
To be successful, Maryland's hospitals will need to speak with one voice, to make sure that Gov. Hogan, as well as legislative leaders, understand the importance of our objectives and how their decisions will have very real impacts on the people we, and they, serve.

MedAssets Acquired by Investment Firm
MedAssets, the nationwide health care group purchasing organization, was acquired this week by Pamplona Capital Management in a deal that, if approved by regulators, would close in the first quarter of 2016. MedAssets is an affiliate of Prime, MHA's shared services/group purchasing organization subsidiary. Following completion of Pamplona's acquisition of MedAssets, Pamplona plans to sell the MedAssets supply chain management segment to VHA-UHC Alliance and combine the Revenue Cycle Management segment with Precyse, a Pamplona-owned company. Prime and MedAssets' contract is in place through February 2016 and MHA expects the affiliate relationships to remain, as MedAssets combines its supply chain management businesses with VHA-UHC to offer significant, enhanced opportunities.
 
Contact: Jim Johnston
MHA Announces Additions to Government Relations Team
MHA this week announced the addition of new members to our Government Relations team. "[These hires] will allow MHA to be an even stronger advocate for Maryland's hospitals now and in the future," said Carmela Coyle, MHA's president & CEO. 
  • Peter Baron, formerly of House Speaker Michael Busch's office, will join MHA Nov. 16 as Director, Government Relations.
  • Brian Frazee, a former staffer for Senate Finance Committee Chairman Thomas "Mac" Middleton and Director of Public Policy at the Maryland Association of Community Services, will join MHA Nov. 18 as Director, Government Relations.
  • Cornerstone Government Affairs joins the MHA team as a new consultant, providing an experienced, respected and powerful presence in Annapolis.
MHA Executive Committee Minutes Available
The minutes from the October Executive Committee meeting are available on the Governance page on our website. Members must be logged in to download the minutes.
MHA Website Wins Award
Matrix Group, the Virginia-based web development firm that created MHA's new website, won a Gold Award from the MarCom Awards in the Associations category for MHA's redesign project. The mission of the MarCom Awards is to honor excellence and recognize the creativity, hard work and generosity of marketing and communications professionals.
Registration Open for TeamSTEPPS Conference
The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) will hold its 2016 TeamSTEPPS National Conference in Washington, D.C., from June 8-10. Registration for the free conference is now open. The TeamSTEPPS National Implementation Team is also seeking proposals for concurrent breakout sessions and posters. You can learn more about the guidelines here. Please contact AHRQTeamSTEPPS@aha.org with questions or visit the National Conference website for further updates.
MHEI Offers Free Joint Commission Program to Members
 
On February 3, Mr. Mark Crafton, director of state and external relations at The Joint Commission, will be at MHEI in Elkridge to present the latest information from The Joint Commission to Maryland's hospital representatives.

Prime's Value to Member Hospitals
 
Prime is MHA's shared service/group purchasing subsidiary. Its goal is to help our member hospitals reduce the cost of care.

House Subcommittee Approves Mental Health Legislation
 
Late this week the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee voted to approve a substitute amendment to the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act (H.R. 2646), legislation to reform elements of the nation's mental health system.

THE WEEK AHEAD
Tuesday, November 10
MHA Executive Committee meeting
MHA Joint Quality-Finance Work Group meeting

Thursday, November 12
MHA Capacity, Certificate of Need, Capital Funding Task Force meeting
TOP NEWS FROM THE WEEK
The Baltimore Sun, By Meredith Cohn, October 30
 
The Baltimore Sun, By Andrea K. McDaniels and Meredith Cohn, November 1
 
The Baltimore Sun, By Erin Cox, November 2
 
The Baltimore Sun, By Andrew Michaels, November 2
 
Washington Business Journal, By Tina Reed, November 3
 
Hospitals & Health Networks, By Marty Stempniak, November 3
 
McKnight's Long Term Care News, By Emily Mongan, November 4
WEBCAST SERIES
Global Budgeting Webcasts Slated
The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, in collaboration with MHA and the American Hospital Association's Hospitals in Pursuit of Excellence, is providing a webcast series over several upcoming weeks on Global Budgeting for Hospital Services. The first webcast (The Maryland Experience), held yesterday, was presented by Health Services Cost Review Commission Chairman John Colmers and Executive Director Donna Kinzer. Yesterday's webcast can soon be viewed at http://www.jhsph.edu/departments/health-policy-and-management/news-and-events/global-budget.html.
 
Future sessions include: 
  • Case Study (Nov. 13, 3:30 p.m.): Featuring Leslie Simmons, CEO, Carroll Hospital, and Carmela Coyle, president & CEO, MHA.
  • Global Budgeting in Your Neighborhood (Nov. 24, 12 p.m.): Featuring Darrell Gaskin, PhD, associated professor, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
  • Across the Care Continuum (Dec. 4, 1 p.m.): Featuring John Chessare, MD, president and CEO, Greater Baltimore Medical Center, Vincent DeMarco, president, Maryland Healthcare for All! Coalition, and Jonathan Blum, executive vice president, CareFirst Blue Cross.
  • The Future from the Federal Perspective (Dec. 18, 11:30 a.m.): Featuring Patrick Conway, MD, acting principal deputy administrator, deputy administrator for innovation and quality, chief medical officer, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).