5 Things Maryland: Health in the budget, Detailed Agenda, Q&A w/Michele Eberle

We are now four weeks out from our annual policy conference that underpins everything we do at State of Reform. In fact, the funding that goes into our conference, from sponsorships to registration, is the totality of what funds our reporting on Maryland health policy the other 364 days of the year.

So, to help you consider whether you’d like to register to join us on May 13th, we’ve highlighted some of the key sessions you’ll see at this year’s event. They are on topics we’re watching in Maryland health policy, and which we’ve teed up for you next month. We’d be honored to have you with us!





With help from Emily Boerger

1. Health items in the budget

The Maryland General Assembly recently passed its $52.4 billion budget plan, representing an over $3 billion increase compared to the $49 billion budget pitched by Gov. Larry Hogan in late January. Delegate Maggie McIntosh called the bill “a bipartisan, historic act which will lift our state out of the pandemic into recovery.”

Among the health priorities in the budget is an additional $673 million for Medicaid ($13.5 billion total) to support the 151,000 new individuals who have enrolled in the program since the pandemic began, along with provider rate increases. The budget also includes: $468 million to the Behavioral Health Administration, $274 million toward Infectious Disease and Environmental Health Services, and $25 million to the Office of Health Care Quality.


2. ICYMI: Detailed Agenda now posted

In case you missed it, earlier this week we released the Detailed Agenda for the 2021 Maryland State of Reform Health Policy Conference. It’s a very good list with some of the most thoughtful folks in Maryland health care joining us on May 13th. You can take a look at the full list here and check out our Topical Agenda for a sense of the conversations we have scheduled for the day!

I also wanted to highlight a panel that we are particularly excited about and one that is critically important during the COVID pandemic. Speaking on our “The pandemic, behavioral health and the system response” panel will be Adrienne Breidenstine, VP of Policy and Communications at Behavioral Health System Baltimore, Kate Farinholt, Executive Director of NAMI Maryland, Dr. Aliya Jones, Deputy Secretary for Behavioral Health at the Maryland Dept. of Health, and John Miller, Executive Director at the MidAtlantic Business Group on Health. This is just one of 16 different breakout sessions that we’ve brought together, so be sure to register today to join in on this can’t miss event!

3. Capitol insiders review the 2021 session

Now that the session is drawing to a close, you’ll get the inside scoop from some of Maryland’s most well connected government relations professionals. They’ll also be at State of Reform on May 13th. dish on the 2021 legislative session and talk through the issues that are on the horizon. Joining the conversation will be Nicole Stallings, SVP of Government Affairs & Policy at the Maryland Hospital Association, Moira Cyphers, Partner at Compass Advocacy, and Vinny DeMarco, President of the Maryland Citizens’ Health Initiative.

State of Reform Reporter Shawna De La Rosa recently connected with DeMarco and other insiders to get a sense of the health policy themes that emerged this session. DeMarco says addressing health inequities was a primary focus this year with bills like SB 52/HB 78, which will establish the Maryland Commission on Health Equity, and SB 5/HB 28, which establishes standards for implicit bias training and data collection, all passing this year.


4. Eberle discusses lowering the uninsured rate

Michele Eberle has served as Executive Director of the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange for nearly three and a half years. In this Q&A, Eberle discusses the Exchange’s efforts to increase the number of insured Marylanders and the legislative efforts they supported this year to achieve their goals.

Eberle highlighted HB 1002, a bill that passed this year that will connect people who file for unemployment insurance with the Exchange so they can more easily access health coverage, and another bill that will provide funding to establish a subsidy program for lower-income young adults. We are looking forward to hearing more from Eberle when she participates on the “Managing Affordability and cost in Maryland health care” panel at the State of Reform conference next month.


5. Reflecting on the Maryland model

We hosted Donna Kinzer, Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, and Joe DeMattos last week to reflect on Maryland’s unique health care financing model and its resiliency during the pandemic. Maryland’s use of global budgets allowed hospitals and providers to weather the COVID pandemic, while hospitals outside of the state struggled financially. The full 50-minute video conversation is available here.

How best to build upon Maryland’s waiver model is an important conversation, and one we’re extending upon at our conference next month. DeMattos and Sharfstein will take this conversation into even more detail at the 2021 Maryland State of Reform Health Policy Conference on our “Opportunities to maximize the waiver model in Maryland” panel. They’ll also be joined by Maryland Hospital Association CEO Bob Atlas.