Earlier this week, a General Assembly conference committee deliberating the state’s budget approved a $30 million reduction in the hospital Medicaid tax – the ‘sick’ tax – for fiscal year 2019.
The figure is notable for two reasons: first, the $5 million increase from what Gov. Larry Hogan initially proposed marks the first time the legislature has bumped up the reduction; second, it demonstrates that legislators are taking seriously the state’s commitment to holding down health care costs so Maryland succeeds under the All-Payer Model and its forthcoming successor.
Further good news: the conference committee determined that the amount of the spend-down for fiscal year 2020 should be $40 million. You can bet the MHA team will work diligently before and during the 2019 session to ensure that happens.
The General Assembly also is close to passing legislation to shore up the individual insurance market. This will benefit Maryland’s hospitals by keeping down the percentage of the population that lacks insurance. Moreover, we succeeded in thwarting the enactment of additional hospital assessments to fund the program.
These victories illustrate the significant headway we have made in educating legislators about the value of controlling costs and reducing the financial burden on hospital patients. Legislators’ ongoing support will be essential as we lay the groundwork for the next phase of the All-Payer Model, where cost control across all health care settings will become even more important. And with some possible turnover in November’s state elections, the education and advocacy effort will need to continue.
These accomplishments could not have happened without your help. In the months leading up to the legislative session, every hospital CEO in Maryland signed a letter to Gov. Hogan stressing the importance of reducing the Medicaid tax. CEOs continued their advocacy during the budget conference committee by pushing hard for the additional spend-down.
While this is a win for hospitals and patients in the short term, its significance reaches far beyond. Legislators are embracing the key role they must play in ensuring that Maryland continues to lead the nation when it comes to health care delivery transformation.