A Big Step Forward

January 21, 2019 By: Bob Atlas

Gov. Larry Hogan’s proposed fiscal year 2020 budget, released Friday, includes investments that support your mission of care, the health of all Marylanders, and the goals of the new Total Cost of Care Model.

Chief among them is his inclusion of a $40-million reduction of the Medicaid Deficit Assessment — also known as the sick tax. This was the hospital field’s top priority, as we made clear in a letter to Gov. Hogan that was signed by all acute care hospital CEOs. We are grateful that Governor Hogan is proposing that the tax be nearly $100 million less than it was at its peak in 2015.

The $40-million reduction follows a $30-million reduction in the hospital Medicaid tax approved in the current fiscal year’s budget — also championed by the Maryland Hospital Association.

This signals that Gov. Hogan and the state legislature take seriously the state’s commitment to holding down health care costs to ensure that Maryland successfully meets the aggressive financial targets of the Total Cost of Care model contract and reduces health care costs for patients.

Our work is just beginning. The General Assembly will now take up the governor’s budget, and the hospital field will advocate to ensure that this reduction is protected during upcoming negotiations. There are several competing budgetary priorities the governor and the legislature are balancing, including the ongoing work of the Kirwan Commission.

MHA also was pleased to learn that the governor appears to have included full funding for Maryland’s two Institutions for Mental Diseases (IMDs) in his budget proposal. He also fully funded the Keep the Door Open Act commitment, which invests millions of dollars into community behavioral health services.

These investments are vitally important to Maryland, and hospitals are ready to work alongside Gov. Hogan, his administration, and lawmakers to ensure the proper resources are in place to move the state toward better health.