February 12, 2016
Spreading the Word on the Medicaid Tax
There's a reason that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg this week surpassed Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos to take the fourth spot on the world's-richest person list: the social media network has 1 billion daily users, 161 million of whom live in the U.S. and Canada, and estimates say that more than half of Maryland's 6 million people use Facebook.
That's why the network is an important part of MHA's efforts to generate public awareness about one of hospitals' top issues: ensuring that the annual $25 million spend-down of the state's Medicaid tax on hospital care remains intact during the 2016 legislative session.
The public portion of this campaign began this week with Facebook outreach to select legislators and Gov. Larry Hogan (with his roughly 100,000 Facebook followers), thanking them for their leadership last year in agreeing to the spend-down and asking them to extend their commitment during the current session.
MHA is planning additional awareness outreach on this issue through more traditional means, like direct mailings to hospital consumers, but the immediacy and reach of messages delivered through social media (already, several legislators have "liked" or shared our posts) rapidly augments the on-the-ground work being done in Annapolis to secure hospitals' stake in the budget debate.
If you're not already connected to us on Facebook or Twitter, take a moment to do so, and then share with your communities the messages we've disseminated about cutting taxes on hospital care. This is a great, real-world example of how hospitals continue to fight for their patients and communities in the halls of the statehouse. 

At Work in Annapolis
MHA continues to review hundreds of bills daily. The Senate bill introduction deadline has passed, and the House deadline is today. Several bills of interest to hospitals were introduced this week, including the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, network adequacy, substance use treatment and freestanding medical facilities. MHA testified at the No-Fault Birth Injury Fund hearing today and several hearings on key MHA priorities will be held next week. Read more in this week's Advocacy Dashboard.
Commissioners Updated on Waiver Activities
Health Services Cost Review Commission members this week received updates on the latest results from the second year of the all-payer model, and were provided with status reports on the Maryland Health Care Commission's telehealth pilot initiative and CRISP's integrated care network infrastructure implementation efforts. Executive Director Donna Kinzer noted that staff will be reaching out to hospitals with follow-up questions on the implementation grant applications submitted in December, with recommendations on this funding expected at the April commission meeting. Read more in this week's Newsbreak.
Health Care Leaders Named "Influential Marylanders"
The Daily Record is honoring five of Maryland's health care leaders, including MHA President & CEO Carmela Coyle, with its 2016 Influential Marylander award. The award was created in 2006 to honor individuals who have improved Maryland's business community and have brought services and success to the region. Other winners in the health care category include:
  • Dr. Robert Gallo, director of the Institute of Human Virology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine
  • Thomas Mullen, CEO of Mercy Health Services
  • Kenneth A. Samet, CEO of MedStar Health
  • Dr. Leana Wen, Baltimore City Health Commissioner
General Assembly Video Testimony Available
A new page on MHA's website features videos from General Assembly hearings or briefings during which MHA has testified. Currently, the page includes testimony given during a House Health & Government Operations Committee briefing last week that addressed three fast-moving hospital topics: the status of the all-payer model, freestanding medical facilities, and access to obstetric services. As MHA engages with legislators throughout the session, whenever possible we'll continue to update this page with videos of the relevant hearings and briefings.
Federal Poverty Guidelines Updated
Notice was published in the Federal Register of updates to the Federal Poverty Guidelines for this year. These new guidelines went into effect January 25.
Court Critical of Medicare Claims Appeals Backlog
A federal appeals court has revived a lawsuit brought by the American Hospital Association on the controversial Recovery Audit Contractor (RAC) program meant to correct improper Medicare payments by identifying and collecting over- and under-payments. The federal appeals court reversed a lower court's dismissal of the lawsuit that sought to compel the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) to meet its stated deadlines for reviewing Medicare claims denials. The decision revives the lawsuit and moves hospitals a step closer to getting timely relief for denied claims. Noting that the backlog of delays has gotten "worse, not better," the appeals court sent the case back to the lower court. Read more in the AHA's Special Bulletin.
Population Health Changes the Provider-Patient Relationship
While financing population health is critical, we must also recognize that some, perhaps much, of our long-term success depends on how well our patient population achieves "health," and remains healthy.

Accelerate Collections by Capturing Missing Charges and Lost Revenue
Health care providers are facing common challenges - transitioning to ICD-10, managing the risk of new reimbursement models, improving net revenue, reducing days in accounts receivable, increasing efficiency, and managing complex contracts.

CMS Extends 2015 EHR Attestation Deadline
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has extended to March 11 the deadline for hospitals and eligible professionals to attest to meaningful use of electronic health records for the 2015 Medicare Electronic Health Records Incentive Program.

Tuesday, February 16
MHA Council on Financial Policy meeting
Friday, February 19
HSCRC Advisory Council meeting
The Washington Post, By Ovetta Wiggins and Arelis R. Hernandez, February 5
The Baltimore Sun, By Bryna Zumer, February 6
Modern Healthcare, By Beth Kutscher, February 6
The Washington Post, By Steven Mufson and Lena H. Sun, February 8
The Washington Post, By Ariana Eunjung Cha, February 9
WMDT, By Julian Sadur, February 9
McKnight's Long Term Care News, By Emily Mongan, February 9
Seven Days, By Nancy Remsen, February 10