It’s an exciting time around here at State of Reform as we move into the planning stages for the 2022 Maryland State of Reform Health Policy Conference, which will take place on May 4.
Next week we’ll host our Convening Panel meeting where we’ll gather input from some of Maryland’s most thoughtful health care and health policy leaders. Their input will help us shape the Topical Agenda and identify some of the speakers we’ll want to have ready for you in May.
So, if you have any topics, speakers, or content ideas for the event, we would love to hear them.
State of Reform
1. Health highlights in the governor’s budget
A significant portion of Gov. Hogan’s $58.2 billion FY 2023 budget proposal is dedicated to health items. In this piece, State of Reform reporter Nicole Pasia breaks down the health-related funding in the budget including the “record high” $996 million allocated to mental health and substance abuse services.
The budget assumes close to 1.6 million Marylanders will be enrolled in Medicaid in FY 2023, which remains about 14% above pre-pandemic levels. The budget includes $4.6 billion in general funds (a $538 million increase compared to FY 22) for the Medicaid program. Other funding includes $187 million in total funds for provider rate increases, $75 million (a $23.4 million increase) to aid local health departments, and $40 million across FY 22 and FY 23 to establish a young adult subsidy pilot program.
2. Q&A: Del. Cullison discusses 2022 priorities
Delegate Bonnie Cullison is a member of the Maryland House Health and Government Operations Committee. The committee is currently reviewing 85 bills, including nine from Cullison. In 2022, Cullison says her health policy priorities include supporting behavioral health services and improving access to home and community-based services.
Cullison says she’s also focused on crafting policies that will help Marylanders transition out of the pandemic. She says this could include policies that range from increasing health care staffing levels to expanding mental health services. “We need to be understanding, compassionate, and gracious in our policy creation around how we deal with that accelerated need in mental health issues.”
3. 40 organizations apply for equity grants
February will mark the end of the Maryland Community Health Resources Commission’s process to distribute $13 million in funding to health equity-based initiatives. Forty organizations across the state submitted applications to MCHRC’s Pathways to Health Equity Call for Proposals in December, with the goal of crafting hyperlocal health campaigns for underserved communities.
Strategies proposed by applicants include implicit bias training for health care practitioners, improved care coordination and communication across health care organizations, and funding for FQHCs to improve outreach and education to sexual and gender minority populations. MCHRC is currently reviewing and scoring candidates. In early February, final candidates will have an opportunity to present their projects to the Commission, followed by the grant awards.
4. Lawmakers discuss solutions to long BH wait times
In a subcommittee meeting this week, lawmakers discussed available programs and potential solutions to reduce the number of patients who are spending hours, days, and sometimes weeks in emergency departments awaiting behavioral health care. The Collaborative Care Model and the Maternal Opioid Misuse Model were both identified as programs that the state could better utilize.
Lawmakers also discussed the Readmission Reduction Incentive Program, which incentivizes hospitals to reduce readmission rates, and the Maryland Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Registry and Referral System, which is awaiting FY 2023 budgetary funding. Ongoing barriers identified in the subcommittee meeting include workforce shortages, inadequate data, and a lack of sustainable funding.
5. Other bills heard in committee
We are just two weeks into Maryland’s 2022 legislative session, but lawmakers have been busy discussing a series of topics ranging from increased reimbursement rates for emergency medical services to newborn health screenings. Bills recently heard in committee include HB 112, which requires health occupations boards to issue an expedited temporary license or permit to certain service members or their spouses, and HB 28, which would allow certain pharmacists to prescribe and dispense nicotine replacement therapy medications.
HB 97, which would establish the “Workgroup on Black, Latino, Asian American Pacific Islander, and Other Underrepresented Behavioral Health Professionals,” received unanimous approval at a committee voting session. “We are one of the most diverse states in the Union,” bill sponsor Del. Marlon Amprey said during the hearing. “It’s an unfortunate reality in our state that we don’t have that diversity reflected [in behavioral health care].”