5 Things Maryland: Medical liability, Veto override, Staffing shortages

We are hosting our Convening Panel next month ahead of our 2021 Maryland State of Reform Health Policy Conference on May 13th. Like our Convening Panel meeting, our conference will be virtual this year.

The job of the Convening Panel is to help identify the right topics, sessions and speakers for the conference. So, if you have ideas for sessions or speakers at this year’s event, we’d love to get your input. We crowdsource our speakers and sessions so that we have as many credible voices in the mix as is possible for a one day event.

So, send me your thoughts, and we’ll get them in the mix!





With help from Emily Boerger

1. Twin bills look to limit medical liability

Lawmakers this session will look to tackle the issue of medical liability through the proposed Maryland Health Care Heroes Protection Act. The bills (HB 25 & SB 311) would protect providers from liability claims related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The issue is a top priority for the Maryland Hospital Association, which says health care workers lack adequate protections. High payouts in medical liability cases is a national issue, but it is particularly impactful in Maryland which has one of the five highest average settlement rates in the country. Both SB 311 and HB 25 have bill hearings scheduled at the beginning of February.


2. Staffing shortages during COVID

The pandemic has exacerbated what has long been a problem in Maryland and the entire country: the nursing shortage. Reporter Shawna De La Rosa spoke with Rebecca Wiseman, Director of the Maryland Nursing Workforce Center at the University of Maryland School of Nursing, about the factors impacting the nursing shortage in Maryland and what can be done to reverse it.

Wiseman says a shortage of clinical sites taking on nursing students, an aging workforce, and the cost of education all contribute to the ongoing shortage. In response to the pandemic, Gov. Hogan issued executive orders extending workforce capacity in the state. And, this summer, faculty members at UMSON were awarded $9.6 million in grants to increase nursing capacity in Maryland through programs that support education and support nurses assuming leadership positions.


3. Senate overrides Hogan veto

The state Senate voted to override several of Gov. Larry Hogan’s vetoes Friday, including a measure that would fund the Prescription Drug Affordability Board. The measure funding the board, SB 669, passed the Senate unanimously and by a mostly party line voted in the House of Delegates in March.

The bill would fund the board through annual fees on drug manufacturers, health plans, wholesalers, and PBMs. Vinny DeMarco, president of the Maryland Citizens’ Health Initiative, tells State of Reform a veto override by the House of Delegates is expected, but not guaranteed. He says the vote will likely take place in February.


4. Uncertain future for health secretary pick

Gov. Hogan nominated Dennis R. Schrader to be the Secretary of Health last week, a controversial choice given the Senate’s refusal to confirm him back in 2017. Despite holding the post since Dec. 1 on an acting basis, Schrader’s confirmation looks to be hitting snags this time around as well.

During a Tuesday news conference, Senate President Bill Ferguson threatened to block a vote on Hogan’s pick unless the state’s COVID vaccination efforts improve. Hogan quickly fired back saying it would be “a terrible mistake” for lawmakers to block the nomination, drawing a comparison to firing a general in the middle of battle.


5. Event: Mental health policy in 2021

This afternoon at 12:30 pm, we are hosting a panel on “Mental health policy in 2021” as the Biden administration takes the reins. This session is part of our Leadership Series, one of our “Virtual Conversations” we have built during this pandemic. To try to reflect the more national conversation, we’ve lined up speakers from North Carolina, Texas and California. The event is free, but you have to register.

Tom Insel, MD, will anchor the panel. He led the National Institute for Mental Health from 2002 to 2015. He is now California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s mental health czar and one of the most well respected thought leaders on mental health in the country. He will be joined by Andy Keller, CEO of the Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute based in Texas, as well as by Susan Mims, MD. She is the Interim CEO of the Dogwood Health Trust in North Carolina, one of the country’s largest and newest health care-focused philanthropic foundations.