Construction Commences on New Hospital in Prince George’s

The University of Maryland Medical System broke ground on the new Capital Region Medical Center in Prince George’s County. State and county officials including Governor Larry Hogan, House Speaker Michael Busch, and Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker participated in the ground breaking event.

WTOP reports:

The new medical center is expected to open in 2021, and will replace the University of Maryland Prince George’s Hospital Center, in Cheverly.

The 26-acre site, next to the Arena Drive exit off Interstate 495 in Largo, will include a 600,000-square-foot facility with an 11-story main patient care building, 205 private inpatient rooms and eight operating rooms.

Plans also call for two rooftop helipads, a 20-bed short-stay treatment area, a 45-bay emergency department and a 15-bed specialty pediatric hospital that will be operated by Mt. Washington Pediatric Hospital, which is co-owned by the University of Maryland Medical System and Johns Hopkins Medicine.

Visit WTOP to learn more.

Preview the 2018 Session “Big Picture”

A compilation of Issue Papers previews major fiscal and policy issues facing the General Assembly in the year ahead. This resource is a handy guide to the top issues that your legislators will be tackling in the year ahead – a great preparation document for county officials in advance of meetings with their local Delegations.

Developed by the Department of Legislative Services, the 2018 Issue Papers are an annual staple for the Annapolis policy-inclined population. They are also a great resource for county officials tracking specific issues, or interested in the state budget and other top-tier topics.

Here are a few direct links to hot topics that may interest counties:

Operating Budget

Transportation Trust Fund

Pension Issues

Capital Budget and Debt

Education Aid and Maintenance of Effort

School Construction

Health Care Reform

Broadband Access

Public Safety

Environmental Issues

Aid to Local Governments

9-1-1 Funding and Modernization

U.S. House Oversight Committee Meets in Baltimore, Focuses on Opioids

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee held a hearing in Baltimore about the nation’s opioid crisis, the declaration of a national emergency, and the implementation of the President’s opioid commission’s report.

As reported by The Baltimore Sun:

With little progress at stopping the epidemic, which has been tied to overprescribing of addictive painkillers, among other factors, President Donald Trump formed the Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis. The panel, led by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, issued a report over the summer and a final version Nov. 1.

This was the first time the oversight committee was able to question Christie about its dozens of recommendations and next steps. Christie said the president would oversee the effort, as well as Cabinet secretaries and, on the front lines, state leaders.

The article states that Christie summarized the three major recommendations from the report as: stopping fentanyl and carfentenil; educating the medical community about the dangers of opioids; and providing more treatment.

The piece notes that while there was much consensus on the data in the report noting the scope off the nation’s opioid crisis, there were questions as to who is in charge of implementing the report’s recommendations and concerns over the lack funding.

The hearing was attended by Maryland officials including Governor Hogan and Baltimore City Mayor Pugh. Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen testified at the hearing.

Read the full article in The Baltimore Sun for more information.

Learn to Save a Life at #MACoCon – Overdose and CPR Training

“Stayin’ Alive” – Learn to Save a Life with Naloxone Training for Opioid Overdoses and Hands-Only CPR Training

Description: Participants will receive in-person, hands-on training and certification in recognizing and responding to opioid overdose with Naloxone. This prescription medication can safely and effectively reverse an opioid (heroin and prescription pain reliever) overdose. Upon completion of the training, participants will receive a certificate and a kit containing educational materials and the medication.

Participants will also receive training in hands-only CPR. Bystander CPR can double or triple a cardiac arrest victim’s chances of survival. Get certified today – and find out how the classic disco song “Stayin’ Alive” can actually help you keep someone alive.

Trainer: Gregory Branch,  Baltimore County Health Officer

Date/Time:

  • Wednesday, December 6, 2017; 4:15 pm – 5:15 pm
  • Thursday, December 7, 2017; 12:45 pm – 1:45 pm

The MACo Winter Conference will be held December 6-8, 2017 at the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Hotel in Cambridge, Maryland. The conference’s theme is “The Power of Partnership.”

Learn more about MACo’s 2017 Winter Conference:

America’s Opioid Epidemic Has a $504 Billion Price Tag

The opioid epidemic cost the United States economy more than $504 billion in 2015—nearly 3 percent of the gross domestic product in that same year.

The United States is grappling with a widespread opioid epidemic. More than a thousand people a week die from opioid-related overdoses. The crisis has reached such a scale that, beyond the risks it poses to public health, it is becoming a drag on the national economy.

According to Route Fifty,

The White House’s Council of Economic Advisers says the opioid epidemic cost the United States economy more than $504 billion in 2015.

The CEA estimate is more than six times higher than the most recent analysis that preceded it. The last time a study of the epidemic’s cost was examined, researchers found that the crisis had cost $79.9 billion. That study was carried out in 2016 and was based on 2013 data.

The CEA analysis is higher because, first, previous studies underestimated the economic cost of the loss of life from this epidemic, and second, those previous estimates did not account for the underreporting of opioid deaths.

The CEA analysis relied upon previous research which found that actual opioid-related death rates were 24 percent higher than what was being reported in official tallies. This underreporting is due in part to imprecise categories on death certificates and the difficulties associated with post-mortem toxicology screening.

Heroin and opioid deaths continue to skyrocket in Maryland and across the country. The crisis has been exacerbated by the deadly combination of heroin and fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid analgesic that is similar to morphine but is 50 to 100 times more potent.

At the 2017 MACo Winter Conference, you can receive hands-on training on how to recognizing and responding to opioid overdose by administering naloxone as well as how to perform hands-only CPR. The “Learn to Save a Life” trainings, sponsored by the Maryland Association of County Health Officers (MACHO), are being offered Wednesday, December 6 from 4:15 pm – 5:15 pm and Thursday, December 7 from 12:45 pm – 1:45 pm.

The MACo Winter Conference will be held December 6-8, 2017 at the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Hotel in Cambridge, Maryland. This year the conference’s theme is “The Power of Partnership.”

Learn more about MACo’s 2017 Winter Conference:

Serving Seniors Supportive Services

Did you know that the MAP Hospital to Home Partnership (H2H) is an innovative initiative which helps counties divert hospital based readmissions by providing access to home and community based services for older adults?

This is but one example of how counties are working to efficiently and effectively administer valuable but limited resources while empowering senior patients to have more control over their care.

At the 2017 MACo Winter Conference learn more about how counties are leveraging public and private partnerships to improve care coordination and achieve better outcomes for their senior residents.

Title: Serving Seniors Supportive Services

Description: Counties provide a diverse array of services and initiatives to assist older adults. These individuals have a wide range of needs: screening for benefits, finding housing, health evaluations, legal resources, and accessing services in their homes and communities are just a few. Counties work efficiently and effectively to administer valuable but limited resources to help address those concerns. In this session learn how counties are leveraging local, state, and national resources as well as forming the necessary partnerships to improve the lives of older adults in their communities.

Speakers:

  • Joanne Williams, Director, Baltimore County Department of Aging
  • Linda Willis, Chief of Aging and Disability Services, Cecil County
  • Morgan Deweese, Aging and Disability Resource Manager, Cecil County

Moderator: The Honorable Sheree Sample-Hughes, Maryland House of Delegates

Date/Time: Wednesday, December 6, 2017; 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm

The MACo Winter Conference will be held December 6-8, 2017 at the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Hotel in Cambridge, Maryland. This year the conference’s theme is “The Power of Partnership.”

Learn more about MACo’s 2017 Winter Conference:

Could Insurance Pools Save Counties Cash?

Could counties save money by joining other government jurisdictions in pooling public employee health care? Potentially yes, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL):

Some public purchasers regularly try to lower overall administrative costs and negotiate lower prices from providers and insurers using their large numbers of enrollees as a bargaining tool. Health costs are controlled by using size, volume purchases and professional expertise to:

  • Minimize and combine administrative and marketing costs;
  • Facilitate negotiations with health insurers for more favorable premium rates and broader benefit packages; and
  • Relieve individual employers of the burden of choosing plans and negotiating coverage and payment details.

In addition to cost containment and simplification, multi-agency purchasing arrangements also can give employees more choices of health benefit plans.

Such pools can result in savings for administrative costs of up to 15 percent for smaller employee groups. Nearly half of all states authorized other government employees to join into state insurance pools in 2010, according to the NCLS report. New Jersey has one of the most extensive health insurance pooling programs – it’s State Health Benefits Program allowed local jurisdictions to join as early as 1964.

Relatedly, MACo is currently exploring options for counties to pool workers’ compensation insurance, and has issued a Feasibility Study Request for Proposals.

Senator Cardin Holds Round Table with Maryland Business Leaders

Senator Ben Cardin discussed critical issues — taxes, healthcare, infrastructure — being debated in Congress that have are impacting Maryland’s business and residents at a round table held at the Maryland Chamber of Commerce on Friday, November 17.

Senator Cardin discusses taxes, healthcare, infrastructure, transportation priorities and more at business round table.

Senator Cardin discusses taxes, healthcare, infrastructure, transportation priorities and more at business round table.The Senator emphasized his commitment to addressing key priorities for Maryland including:

  • FBI – working on finding a path forward for moving the FBI to Prince George’s County.
  • Protecting Federal and Military Installations in Maryland – ensuring they receive the resources and support they need. There was not a round of BRAC this year but one may be coming in another year or so.
  • CSX/Howard Street Tunnel – addressing the issues with the tunnel is essential to its long-term viability and talks continue with CSX financial officers and CEOs.

Q&A with the round table participants centered a lot on their frustrations with the state of the national health care laws and rising premiums, but also involved lengthy discussions on taxes, cyber security, and small business procurement issues.

 

Harford Council Considers Ambulance Fee Bill

The Harford County Council is considering a bill introduced by County Executive Glassman to set fees on county-owned ambulance services equal to those under Medicare.

The Baltimore Sun reports:

The legislation also provides for such charges to increase or decrease in step with applicable Medicare charges fluctuations. If there is no comparable Medicare charge for the service provided, the county’s director of emergency services and treasurer would set the fee.

If the patient transported is not covered by insurance – or the insurance does not cover the service provided, the legislation gives the emergency services director and treasurer authority to waive the charge.

The bill also provides waiver authority to the director of emergency services and treasurer for cases in which the patient or the service being provided is not covered by insurance.

The article notes that the bill is one part of a plan by the County Executive’s office to move towards a county paid and county controlled ambulance system.

For more information read the full article in The Baltimore Sun.

Related coverage from Conduit Street:

Harford Launches New Emergency Medical Standards Advisory Board

Study: Opioid Addiction Medication Equally Effective, Factors to Consider

New study from The Lancet finds naltrexone (Vivitrol) comparably effective as buprenorphine (Suboxone), providing more treatment options for patients. Providers should continue to consider all factors when considering which treatment to use.

There are a few different medication-assisted treatments available to help treat opioid addiction — old guards such as methadone and buprenorphine (Suboxone), and new comers such as naltrexone (Vivitrol). A recent study sought to compare the effectiveness of the old and new options, specifically naloxone and buprenorphine.

The results: both were similarly effective but factors such as the initial hurdles to starting the medications, the way they  work, costs, and treatment processes should be considered when deciding which treatment to use for a patient.

Vox reports:

For the first time, a new study in The Lancet, sponsored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), compared the effectiveness of naltrexone with buprenorphine. The results were both promising and disappointing. While naltrexone is as effective as buprenorphine once treatment begins, it is also significantly more difficult to actually start naltrexone because it requires an extensive detox period — which can span more than a week — that buprenorphine does not.

The good news, though, is that buprenorphine and naltrexone were similarly effective once patients got over the initial hurdle. For naltrexone, the opioid relapse rate was about 52 percent. For buprenorphine, it was 56 percent. These were statistically similar, with no difference between men and women. Other measures, such as opioid-negative urine samples, opioid-abstinent days, and overdoses, did not differ between naltrexone and buprenorphine.

The Vox article explains in detail how the report showed that while both medications are ultimately effective in treating opioid addiction, there are differences between the two medications that factor into how good a fit each would be as an option for a particular individual.

It concluded that multiple treatment paths and treatment options are needed to ensure patient’s needs and treatments are effectively being met. For the right patient Naltreoxone is as effective as the medication-assisted treatment options.

Different options are needed. As Humphreys told me, “In the rest of medicine, we accept that there are multiple treatment paths and that patient preference matters.” The same should be true for addiction. After all, even though buprenorphine is still considered the gold standard for addiction care, the Lancet study found it still had an average relapse rate above 50 percent. It’s clear that buprenorphine doesn’t serve all patients and that other options are needed.

For more information:

A new study found a big problem with a popular opioid addiction medication (Vox)

Comparative effectiveness of extended-release naltrexone versus buprenorphine-naloxone for opioid relapse prevention (X:BOT): a multicentre, open-label, randomised controlled trial (The Lancet)