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BUSINESS
By Andrea K. Walker, The Baltimore Sun | December 4, 2013
A state panel voted unanimously Wednesday to keep hospital rates flat for the second half of fiscal year 2014 as uncertainty remains around the financial stability of hospitals and the institutions await proposed changes in how they are compensated. Hospitals will get a 1.65 percent rate increase for inpatient and outpatient services for the six months that start in January, said Steve Ports, deputy director for policy and operations at the Hospital Cost Services Review Commission.
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HEALTH
By Meredith Cohn | August 6, 2014
Top Maryland officials highlighted a change in the way hospitals are charging patients for treatment - and a related push to prevent unnecessary admissions -- during a stop Wednesday in Western Maryland. Maryland has long regulated hospital rates under a unique agreement with federal officials, but has altered its waiver in a way that provides hospitals with a budget based on their projected patient population rather than a fee for every service performed. The idea is to cut costs and improve care by encouraging more preventive measures.
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HEALTH
By Andrea K. Walker, The Baltimore Sun | May 31, 2013
Maryland hospitals would get some help dealing with federal cuts under a proposed plan that would increase the rates they can charge by 1.65 percent. The staff of the Health Services Cost Review Commission, the agency responsible for setting hospital rates, will recommend the increase at a meeting next week. The rate increase would take effect July 1 and run through the end of the year. The Maryland Hospital Association doesn't think the proposed increase is enough and is suggesting a rate hike of 2.43 percent.
NEWS
March 10, 2014
The conclusion of The Sun's editorial, "Investing in lower health costs" (March 7), is that "unless the hospitals start making immediate and fundamental changes to the way they operate …" Maryland will not be successful under the new waiver from Medicare that allows the state to continue to keep health care costs down by setting hospital rates. Rest assured, Maryland's hospitals have already dived head first into immediate and fundamental changes, with most having agreed with the state to enter into budget arrangements that provide us a fixed budget per year to take care of people and work with other providers and community organizations to keep our communities healthier.
HEALTH
By Andrea K. Walker, The Baltimore Sun | May 9, 2013
Johns Hopkins Hospital charged $13,667 on average to treat one admission of a Medicare patient with diabetes in 2011, while a couple of miles away Mercy Medical Center billed an average of $8,425. The University of Maryland Medical Center charged $9,045 on average to treat a kidney and urinary tract infection, while a short distance away Bon Secours Hospital's charges averaged $11,922. Data released by the federal government Wednesday show that what hospitals charge Medicare to treat patients varies widely.
HEALTH
By Andrea K. Walker, The Baltimore Sun | June 5, 2013
A state panel voted unanimously Wednesday to increase the rates hospitals can charge by 1.65 percent, but the medical institutions say the amount is inadequate and will collectively drive hospitals into the red. The Maryland Hospital Association said the decision will cause operating margins to plummet to negative 0.24 percent. The association had pushed for a rate hike of 2.43 percent, which would have also pushed down margins, but still left hospitals operating in positive territory.
HEALTH
By Andrea K. Walker, The Baltimore Sun | June 9, 2012
For 35 years, Maryland has enjoyed a unique exemption from the federal government that allowed it to regulate hospital rates so that patients are charged the same no matter where they seek care. But the system that state health officials say has created an egalitarian way of charging for health care now faces an unprecedented challenge. The state has come dangerously close to failing a test it must meet every three months to keep the exemption, under which the federal government gives Maryland larger Medicare payments than other states.
HEALTH
By Scott Dance, The Baltimore Sun | November 6, 2013
The rates hospitals can charge for care would remain flat for the first six months of 2014 amid uncertainty over hospitals' financial stability and proposed changes in how they are compensated, under a draft recommendation made by a state panel Wednesday. Maryland's hospital rate-setting agency typically sets the terms for hospitals' reimbursement on an annual basis, but took a more tentative approach because of the upheaval. Earlier this year, most state hospitals were given a 1.65 percent increase in rates for the first half of fiscal year 2014, which began in July, and the Health Services Cost Review Commission is suggesting that rates remain the same for the second half.
NEWS
May 7, 2012
I read in The Sun that the state is limiting the hospitals that it regulates to a very slight increase in rates ("Maryland allows hospitals slight increase in rates," May 3). According to the article, under current economic conditions, state regulators chose to keep the hospitals from raising their rates in order to protect the public. The overall combined rate increase was held to .3 percent. If only these same people can get the message to the politicians in Annapolis who are about to convene a special session in order to raise taxes.
HEALTH
By Andrea K. Walker, The Baltimore Sun | May 2, 2013
Maryland hospitals said they will need to cut jobs and patient services after a state panel voted Wednesday to keep hospital rates flat, despite a 2 percent cut in Medicare payments required by federal sequestration. "There are significant job cuts literally on the near-term horizon," Robert A. Chrencik, CEO of the University of Maryland Medical System told commissioners during a hearing before the vote. "I think folks need to be aware of that. " The 5-1 vote by the Health Services Cost Review Commission, which sets the state's hospital rates, effectively forces the hospitals to absorb the cut in Medicare reimbursement at a time when hospital margins are razor-thin.
NEWS
March 6, 2014
Maryland's health care system faces its greatest transformation in a generation - not because of the state's troubled health insurance exchange or even directly because of the Affordable Care Act but because of a change in the state's decades-old system for compensating hospitals. Under the terms of Maryland's newly updated waiver to Medicare rules, hospitals will make profits by keeping people well and out of their wards rather than by admitting them and treating them when they get sick.
NEWS
January 14, 2014
 Editor: Anyone who thought Obamacare was a problem better be prepared for the new regulations regarding hospital services in Maryland. The state just negotiated an agreement with the federal government that will have an historic impact on health care access in our state.  Maryland is a state where hospital rates are controlled by the state. No other state is engaging in this type of program.  Maryland health care consumers will be the test group.  I believe the consequences will be tragic.
HEALTH
Andrea K. Walker, The Baltimore Sun | January 10, 2014
A top official with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said Friday that a state plan to reduce hospital visits could serve as a national model for curbing costs while improving patient outcomes. Deputy Administrator and Director Jonathan Blum said the approach could disprove the notion that quality health care must be expensive. While other programs already have shown this across the country, he said, Maryland would be the first to test the premise statewide. "We want Maryland to be the basis for other states ... to test the boundaries of what it means to lower total cost of care and boost total quality of care," Blum said.
BUSINESS
By Andrea K. Walker, The Baltimore Sun | December 4, 2013
A state panel voted unanimously Wednesday to keep hospital rates flat for the second half of fiscal year 2014 as uncertainty remains around the financial stability of hospitals and the institutions await proposed changes in how they are compensated. Hospitals will get a 1.65 percent rate increase for inpatient and outpatient services for the six months that start in January, said Steve Ports, deputy director for policy and operations at the Hospital Cost Services Review Commission.
HEALTH
By Scott Dance, The Baltimore Sun | November 6, 2013
The rates hospitals can charge for care would remain flat for the first six months of 2014 amid uncertainty over hospitals' financial stability and proposed changes in how they are compensated, under a draft recommendation made by a state panel Wednesday. Maryland's hospital rate-setting agency typically sets the terms for hospitals' reimbursement on an annual basis, but took a more tentative approach because of the upheaval. Earlier this year, most state hospitals were given a 1.65 percent increase in rates for the first half of fiscal year 2014, which began in July, and the Health Services Cost Review Commission is suggesting that rates remain the same for the second half.
HEALTH
By Andrea K. Walker, The Baltimore Sun | September 9, 2013
Sixty workers at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center lost their jobs last week after the hospital closed its skilled nursing facility division where patients go for rehabilitation after a hospital stay. The hospital said its skilled nursing unit has faced financial challenges for several years and has shrunk from 200 beds in the mid-1980s to fewer than 50 last year. "We had to look carefully at this program and decided to close the 38-remaining facility beds," Hopkins said Monday in a statement.
BUSINESS
By M. WILLIAM SALGANIK and M. WILLIAM SALGANIK,SUN REPORTER | February 2, 2006
State Health Secretary S. Anthony McCann joined other people who pay hospital bills yesterday in calling for Maryland's rate-setting commission to moderate the increase of hospital rates over the next three years. The state's Medicaid program for the poor, administered by McCann's department, picks up the tab for about 15 percent of hospital stays. McCann said too great an increase in hospital rates could push the state beyond federal spending limits for Medicaid. The state would lose the federal match for spending increases that exceed 7.1 percent per year per beneficiary.
BUSINESS
By JAY HANCOCK | May 13, 2009
Everybody complains about energy costs. Although gas prices have plunged from last summer's highs, energy is still one of the most visible culprits in the inflation that eats away paychecks, government budgets and corporate profits. But $4-a-gallon gas was nothing compared with what's going on in medicine. If petroleum prices had kept pace with health insurance costs over the last three or four decades, we would now be paying $8 a gallon for gas and perhaps looking forward to $15. A small but not insignificant step in the march of the health care monster will take place Wednesday morning before the Maryland Health Services Cost Review Commission.
HEALTH
By Andrea K. Walker, The Baltimore Sun | June 11, 2013
The University of Maryland Medical Center will send layoff notices to employees at the end of the month as it looks to cut costs in the wake of federal budget cuts and what it and other state hospitals have called inadequate rate increases. Jeffrey Rivest, president and CEO of the Baltimore hospital, sent an email to managers Tuesday that said individual letters regarding layoffs would be given out June 25, 26 and 27. The number of people who will lose their jobs still is being finalized, said spokeswoman Mary Lynn Carver said.
HEALTH
By Andrea K. Walker, The Baltimore Sun | June 5, 2013
A state panel voted unanimously Wednesday to increase the rates hospitals can charge by 1.65 percent, but the medical institutions say the amount is inadequate and will collectively drive hospitals into the red. The Maryland Hospital Association said the decision will cause operating margins to plummet to negative 0.24 percent. The association had pushed for a rate hike of 2.43 percent, which would have also pushed down margins, but still left hospitals operating in positive territory.
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