1. In August, the Board of Physician Quality Assurance (BPQA) released new software that enables a physician to complete his/her medical license renewal application via their web-site at www.bpqa.state.md.us. The secure site allows renewal with minimal data entry because each application includes the physician's last renewal information. Licensing fees may also be paid on line using a new electronic check debit feature. Physicians may still renew their license the old fashioned way - by mail and traditional check.
2. In July, the Maryland Health Care Commission released its third annual Report on Licensed Acute Care Hospital Bed Capacity. The total licensed bed capacity for a hospital equals 140% of that hospital's daily census during a 12-month reporting period. The formula provides for a 2.1% increase to the number of licensed acute beds statewide from FY 2002 to FY 2003, or an additional 205 beds. Effective July 1, 2002, twenty-nine hospitals were approved for an increase to bed inventories, while eighteen hospitals must operate over the next year with fewer beds. Southern Maryland Hospital Center led the way with a 36-bed increase, while Greater Baltimore Medical Center lost the most - 20 beds.
3. In July, the Health Services Cost Review Commission (HSCRC) approved "spenddown" agreements for seven hospitals. Previously, the HSCRC identified hospitals as high cost if that hospital's charges were more than 3% above its peer group average. The following hospitals must lower their charges: Harford Memorial Hospital, Washington Adventist Hospital, Bon Secours Hospital, Fort Washington Medical Center, Saint Joseph Medical Center, Laurel Regional Hospital and Kent and Queen Anne's Hospital. Although the terms of each spenddown differs, the hospitals have between 2-3 years to lower their charges to a predetermined goal.