With the start of the 2018 General Assembly session less than three months away, preparations for what is expected to be a challenging and complex political climate are well underway at MHA. There have been many meetings with key legislators, plenty of input into the state’s budget process, and the development of supporting advocacy materials like infographics and legislative briefs.
Driving all of this work is MHA’s legislative agenda, which your MHA Executive Committee approved late last month. The agenda details the hospital field’s three top priorities – issues that MHA continues to pursue so that you have the tools you need to take care of the patients and communities you serve. The agenda includes:
- Behavioral health: In alignment with a forthcoming roadmap from MHA’s Behavioral Health Task Force for an essential, comprehensive behavioral health care system, the focus for the coming session will be to strengthen the behavioral health care workforce and expand access to crisis services.
- Sick tax: Previously referred to as the “Medicaid tax,” efforts this year will focus on protecting the $35 million spend-down to which legislators committed last year.
- Liability costs: This annual priority aims to mitigate Maryland’s litigious environment so that health care resources go to patients, not defensive medicine or expensive court battles.
These are the tip of the iceberg of course; many other issues will be advocated by MHA staff and consultants before and during the session. And the 90-day session could be challenging to navigate because the governor’s seat and other key legislative positions are up for grabs in the 2018 election. Against this backdrop, the state is entering the final stages of negotiations on a new contract with CMS for an updated version of the All-Payer Model. In other words, the stakes couldn’t be higher.
That’s why we are laying the groundwork now, so that when the gavel is brought down on January 10 to open the three-month session, policymakers will understand why it’s so important that Maryland’s hospitals thrive.