May 27, 2016
Summer's Here and So is Zika
The Memorial Day weekend is expected to bring the hottest temperatures of the year, approaching 90 degrees. Coming on the heels of one of the wettest months in recent history, entomologists and state agricultural specialists are predicting that a big mosquito "bloom" for 2016 is in the offing.
That's a serious problem for those tasked with mitigating the spread of the Zika virus, an especially nasty disease that causes only minor flu-like symptoms for most people, but is devastating to pregnant women and their babies. For them, Zika can cause microcephaly, a condition that impairs fetuses and babies for their entire lives. In Maryland, Zika could be a real problem for the nearly 70,000 women who get pregnant each year.

On Monday, I joined U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin and the state's leading public health experts at a Zika Virus Readiness panel discussion at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Topics ranged from mosquito abatement to emergency federal funding to address a virus that, while not generating the same level of alarm as Ebola, is now expected to spread quickly and much farther, and cost billions of dollars and immeasurable human toll if not mitigated.
Pictured from left to right:
Ron Peterson, president, The Johns Hopkins Hospital and Health System; Sen. Ben Cardin; Dr. Leana Wen, Baltimore City Health Commissioner; Dr. Howard Haft, deputy secretary of public health at the Department of Health & Mental Hygiene

Rapid tests won't be available until the fourth quarter of this year at the earliest, and state mosquito abatement funds are extremely limited, so spraying in communities not previously treated will only be done after a case of Zika has been confirmed in a particular area.
That's one reason Sen. Cardin expressed frustration at Monday's meeting - the current funding proposal from the U.S. Senate is about $800 million short of what President Obama has asked for to combat the virus; the House proposal is worse, $1.4 billion shy. And both options siphon dollars away from Ebola programs, yet another problem.
So, what can hospitals do while all this gets sorted out? A few things.
First, you can help raise awareness about Zika so that your communities understand the risks. The Department of Health & Mental Hygiene has several web-based resources that can help. Second, it's important to stay connected with your state and federal legislators and, should the opportunity arise, remind them that public health emergencies are best treated with long-term strategic planning, not reactive, ad-hoc responses. Finally, make sure your staff are well-versed on Zika - the Centers for Disease Control has resources for clinicians and guidance to protect health care workers.

MHA's Annual Membership Meeting Is Fast Approaching!
There is still time to register for MHA's Annual Membership Meeting at the Four Seasons Hotel Baltimore on June 13 and 14. Registration closes June 6. Our lunch speaker will be University of Virginia professor Larry Sabato, Ph.D., a nationally respected election analyst and author. With the 2016 presidential election less than six months away, Dr. Sabato will bring his political "crystal ball" to Maryland's hospital leaders to examine how the election could turn out and what it might mean for the country as well as the health care field. With his uncanny election prediction record, he will blend real-world analysis with humorous insight into the state of political affairs and examine how different scenarios might affect the future of American politics and policy. See additional details in the annual meeting brochure. Click HERE to register for the meeting.
Contact: Kathy Gotwalt
HSCRC Webinar Examines Physician Reimbursement
A Health Services Cost Review Commission webinar, CMS Quality Payment Program: Prepare Now for 2017, will provide information on the Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS), the MACRA Quality Payment Program, and Comprehensive Primary Care Plus (CPC+). The session will feature Dr. Barbara Connors, Chief Medical Officer with Region III at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, and Patrick Hamilton, Health Insurance Specialist/Rural Health Coordinator and National Lead for MACRA. Connors and Hamilton have been presenting this webinar to stakeholders throughout the region to educate them about these programs. The webinar is designed to prepare stakeholders to comment on the proposed rules and make long-term decisions for their organizations about these programs. The webinar is scheduled for May 31 from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Click here to register. Email Nicole Stallings if you have questions.
Comment Letters Submitted to HSCRC
MHA sent two letters this week to the Health Services Cost Review Commission (HSCRC) detailing concerns about the proposed Healthcare Transformation Implementation Grant Program, Potentially Avoidable Utilization (PAU) Shared Savings Program, and the total amount at risk for quality-based initiatives. In addition, MHA thanked the HSCRC in one of the letters for proffering a revised Readmissions Reduction Incentive Program that accounts for both attainment and improvement, a change that MHA had requested and which provides hospitals access to $11.6 million more than the original proposal. The letter on transformation grants is available here; the letter on reimbursement programs is here. All of these issues will be voted on at the June 8 HSCRC meeting. If you have any questions about these letters or the meeting, contact Mike Robbins.
Materials Available from 2016 Leadership Summit
On May 24, MHA cosponsored the Transforming Health Care & Partnering for Success summit with LifeSpan Network and the Maryland-National Capital Homecare Association. The summit was designed to inspire, enlighten and inform Maryland's health care innovators about how partnerships across the care continuum can spur quality improvement. To view summit materials, click here.
VHQC Offers Webinars on Collaboration
The Virginia Health Quality Center (VHQC) is offering four 30-minute webinars over the coming months to help hospitals learn about successful strategies for working with community partners. The sessions are part of VHQC's Learning and Action Network events. The first, "Structuring Coalitions for Success," is June 14 at 12:30 p.m. The remaining webinars will be August 9 (Tests of Change and the Improvement Model), October 11 (Measuring Coalition Activities), and December 13 (Celebrating Community Successes). All are at 12:30 p.m. Click here to register for the series.
Encouraging Doctors to Lead
Whether it is a service within the hospital, a formal position on the medical staff, a committee assignment or just a small group of dedicated providers, physicians have not always been given the education and training needed to lead a group to a successful result.

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.

Senate Approves Resolution Promoting Minority Health Awareness, Equity
The Senate this week approved by unanimous consent an AHA-supported resolution promoting minority health awareness and supporting the goals and ideals of National Minority Health Month, which in April focused attention on health disparities and accelerating health equity.

The Baltimore Sun, By Meredith Cohn, May 22
The Daily Record, By Daniel Leaderman, May 22
The Washington Post, By Aaron Gregg and Fenit Nirappil, May 22
The Washington Post, By Arelis R. Hernandez, May 24
WBAL-TV, By Jayne Miller, May 24
The Baltimore Sun, By Andrew Michaels, May 25
Herald-Mail Media, By Tamela Baker, May 26
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