5 Things Maryland: Health equity RFP, Bending the Rx cost curve, Oral health task force


Emily Boerger


In case you missed it, registration is now open for our “5 Slides: Bending the Rx cost curve” virtual conversation. It will be an interactive conversation on a topic that continues to be top of mind for lawmakers and stakeholders. More details on the discussion are available below.

In this edition of “5 Things We’re Watching” we also feature a new health equity grant call for proposals, the latest from the Maryland Health Care Commission, and an update from the Task Force on Oral Health.

As always, thanks for reading!

Emily Boerger
Managing Editor
State of Reform


1. Health equity grant call for proposals

In an effort to reduce health disparities in the state, the Maryland Community Health Resources Commission issued a call for proposals this month to determine the awardees of the $13 million Pathways to Health Equity grant program. The $13 million in funding was made available through the Maryland Health Equity Resource Act under HB 0463 during the 2021 legislative session and will be distributed over a two year period.

Applications for the upcoming grant must have initiatives that address five policy objectives: reduce health disparities, improve outcomes, improve access to primary care, promote prevention services, and reduce health care costs and hospital admissions. Proposals must also serve geographical areas that have a minimum population of 5,000 and measurable health disparities. The application deadline is Dec.7 with awards expected in early Feb. 2022.

2. 5 Slides: Bending the Rx cost curve

As a return to normalcy appears on the horizon, the intersection of cost pressures and innovation in pharmacy is becoming a primary topic of concern in health policy. On Tuesday, November 2, from 1:00 – 2:00pm ET, we’ll bring together a panel of experts for a conversation on innovative strategies to bend the Rx cost curve.

Joining our “5 Slides: Bending the Rx cost curve” virtual conversation will be Dr. Robert Popovian, senior fellow for health policy at the Progressive Policy Institute, Sarah Ikenberry, senior communication advisor for the Therapeutic Biologics and Biosimilars Staff at the FDA, and Dr. Kashyap Patel, president of Community Oncology Alliance. This event is free to attend, but you have to register to join us. You’ll be able to pose questions and participate in the conversation as well, just as you do in our conferences. We’d love to have you with us!

3. ‘Hospital at Home’ model gets approval

The Maryland Health Care Commission (MHCC) convened last week week to discuss the incorporation of the Hospital at Home model in the Maryland All-Payer Model. The Hospital at Home program, originally conceived by researchers at Johns Hopkins Schools of Medicine and Public Health, would provide certain patients with the option to receive acute-level care within their home instead of at a hospital.

Data from Hopkins shows the program may save 19%-30% compared to traditional inpatient care. During the meeting, the Health Services Cost Review Commission found no significant regulatory barriers under the All Payer Model that would impede the program’s implementation. The MHCC voted unanimously to adopt its implementation and will now engage in a broader conversation about how the program could be enacted.


4. Oral health taskforce approves workplan

At this month’s Task Force on Oral Health in Maryland meeting, dental and oral health leaders discussed recommendations to improve affordability and access to care in the state. A key recommendation discussed at the meeting was the need for higher Medicaid dental reimbursement rates. Presenters said low rates are both a barrier to maintaining an adequate oral health workforce and a barrier to access for underserved communities.

The task force also finalized and approved its workplan to prepare for its interim report to the General Assembly. The work plan identifies target populations – including immigrants, children, the elderly, and LGBTQ+ patients – and will identify specific barriers to care along with solutions and recommendations for lawmakers to consider.


5. Disparities within MD’s vaccine benchmarks

Gov. Hogan announced this week that 98% of Maryland seniors have now received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, bringing the total adult population with at least one dose to over 85%. Despite ranking in the top 10 states in the country for full vaccinations, COVID-19-related vaccine disparities remain in the state.

Garrett, Allegany, Cecil, Somerset, and Wicomico Counties all have full vaccination rates under 47%. By comparison, Montgomery and Howard Counties are both above 68%. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the counties with the lowest rates of vaccination are also the areas with the highest average daily case rates. Howard and Montgomery Counties have case rates of 6 per 100K and 7 per 100K, respectively; Garrett County is averaging 61 cases per 100K.