March 25, 2016
March Madness in Annapolis
No, not the basketball tournament, but the flurry of activity in Annapolis as the legislature enters its final weeks of the 2016 session. This year has been marked by a massive number of bills, including hundreds with the potential to affect hospitals and your ability to care for communities. Here's a look at where we stand on the issues that affect you:
Issues that hospitals support 
  • Fiscal Year 2017 Budget - The working budget plan includes funding for two important hospital needs: a $25 million reduction in the annual hospital Medicaid tax and an additional $3 million (to start) for Institutions for Mental Disease, plus a commitment from the Department of Health & Mental Hygiene to fund a potential funding gap for IMD services during fiscal year 2017
  • Care Act - MHA worked to improve this legislation that helps hospitals connect patients to lay caregivers, as previous versions would have burdened your staff; this version will be headed to Governor Hogan for his signature
  • No-Fault Birth Injury Fund - This tool to help ease Maryland's fractious liability environment is still on an uphill climb but gained a lot of traction this session, attracting the support of some powerful legislative leaders
  • Freestanding Medical Facilities - Committee reception in both chambers has been favorable; there's cautious optimism that hospitals will receive this intermediate-level designation so they can right-size facilities quickly to meet community needs
  • Physician Alignment - Through delicate negotiations, this bill to protect patients while allowing for certain types of hospital-physician collaboration remains in play as we head toward Sine Die
  • Network Adequacy - This bill to require insurance carriers to submit accurate provider directories has passed the House and is being discussed in the Senate
  • Telemedicine - Unanimously supported in the Senate, this bill allows primary care providers to be reimbursed for health care services delivered via telemedicine 
Issues that hospitals oppose 
  • Fair Scheduling Act - This onerous bill that would have required hospitals to provide work schedules weeks in advance has been withdrawn and will not move forward this year
  • Tax Exemption Disclosure - This bill, which is really an invitation to question hospitals' tax exemptions, received an unfavorable report by the Senate Finance Committee and was withdrawn in the House Health and Government Operations Committee
  • Criminalizing CDS Prescription Deaths - This bill would have made it a crime if a patient dies following a controlled dangerous substance prescription; it has received an unfavorable committee report
  • Patient Bill of Rights - This bill places burdensome and problematic requirements on hospitals regarding the standardization and display of bills of rights; it is still alive and something that we'll continue to work in these final few weeks, as well as during the interim between this and next year's session 
While the pieces are in place for a successful session, things can and often do change quickly. That's why your MHA will be in Annapolis until the final gavel strike of the year at midnight April 11 - to ensure that the legislative and regulatory environment in Maryland is one that helps you meet your mission of care.

At Work in Annapolis
This week, the House of Delegates passed the fiscal year 2017 state budget, and a conference committee was appointed to address differences between the two chambers' versions of the budget bill. With two weeks left in the legislative session, MHA is working on several bills that are still progressing in the General Assembly, and closely monitoring the budget. Read more in this week's Advocacy Dashboard.
Bond Program Application Available
The 2016 MHA Bond Program application process began Thursday, with materials mailed to hospital CEOs. The process will determine capital projects put forward during the 2017 legislative session, for state funds to be used from June 1, 2017 - May 31, 2019. New for this year, the application schedules and forms have been revised and simplified and all application forms will be completed electronically. Application forms and other supporting documentation will be uploaded to a hospital-specific SharePoint site for review. Hospitals should request correspondence from the Health Services Cost Review Commission and Maryland Health Care Commission by Friday, April 29, for Certificate of Need non-coverage determination. Applications must be completed and submitted by Friday, June 17, including HSCRC and MHCC correspondence and other letters of support. Application materials may be found on our website at If you have questions, please contact Brett McCone, Jennifer Witten, or Dorothy Patrickson.
Two Hospital CFOs Honored
The Baltimore Business Journal's 2016 Best in Finance: CFO Award honors two Maryland hospital chief financial officers. David Krajewski is the chief finance officer and senior vice president at LifeBridge Health. Paul Nicholson is the chief financial officer at University of Maryland St. Joseph Medical Center. An event will be held May 6 to honor the winners.
Webinar Scheduled on Reducing Patient Harm
The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) is hosting a webinar April 13, 2016 from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m., on the implementation of TeamSTEPPS across facilitates operated by the Healthcare Corporation of America (HCA). The webinar, "Using TeamSTEPPS to Reduce Patient Harm: Strategies and Successes across Multiple Settings," will feature Bill Laxton, RN, BSN, CPHRM, director of the Risk and Patient Safety Department in the Clinical Services Group at HCA. His presentation will include HCA's history with TeamSTEPPS; lessons learned from over seven years of implementation and sustainment; and specific strategies related to the reduction of patient harm. There is no cost to participate. Click here to register.
DHMH Supports Opioid "Black Box" Warning
Earlier this week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a "black box" warning for prescription opioids, a decision that the Maryland Department of Health & Mental Hygiene is praising. "Prescribers' best practices are a critical element to responding to this epidemic," said Health and Mental Hygiene Deputy Secretary of Public Health Dr. Howard Haft. "For that reason, we also signed on to a recent multistate petition of the government to approve warning labels tied to the use of opioids with benzodiazepines." Also this week, the Chesapeake Employer's' Insurance Company announced a gift of $750,000 to DHMH to use over three years to strengthen Maryland's Prescription Drug Monitoring Program.
Staff: A Leadership Priority
While the work of health care providers continues to be demanding, it is the constant change in our environment, and our response to it, that make work stressful.

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

FDA Announces Generic Opioid-Related Guidance, Labeling Changes

The Food and Drug Administration has issued draft guidance for companies developing generic versions of approved opioids with abuse-deterrent formulations.

Wednesday, March 30
MHA Total Cost of Care Work Group meeting

Thursday, March 31
MHA Capacity, Certificate of Need and Capital Funding Task Force meeting
Hospital Impact, By Carmela Coyle, March 17
The Daily Record, By Daniel Leaderman, March 18
The Baltimore Sun, By Bryna Zumer, March 18
The Baltimore Sun, By David Anderson, March 22
The Washington Post, By Joe Davidson, March 23
The Baltimore Sun, By Andrea K. McDaniels, March 23