In May, Commissioner Samuel J. Lin was appointed Vice-Chairman of the Health Services Cost Review Commission (HSCRC). In August, Joseph Antos, Ph.D., an economist with American Enterprise Institute, joined the Commission. July 2004 marked the HSCRC's 400th meeting. The Commission, with the assistance of hospitals and payors, has been setting rates for Maryland hospitals for 30 years.
2. In June, the Maryland Health Care Commission (HCC) announced that the Maryland Hospital Association and the Delmarva Foundation will develop and operate a new Maryland patient Safety Center. Funding for the first three years of the project will come from both organizations and increased hospital rates as approved by the HSCRC. Using the Veterans Health Administration's model for improving patient safety, the Center will be a confidential data repository for errors and near misses in health care delivery and will facilitate education among health care providers for improved care. The Center will implement data collection in early 2005. If successful, the patient safety initiative will expand from hospitals and nursing homes to ambulatory surgery centers and other care settings after the initial three-year period.
3. In June, the HSCRC released its "Disclosure of Hospital Financial and Statistical Data" report. The report showed that the average payment received by Maryland hospitals per equivalent inpatient admission increased by 4.4% in FY 2003 compared to a national increase of 5.8%. Uncompensated care in FY 2003 was $546M compared to $538M in FY 2002. Profits on regulated hospital activities in FY 2003 increased to $249M from $242.9M in FY 2002.
4. In June, the HSCRC approved a hospital wide audit procedure to monitor each hospital's case mix coding. The HSCRC will examine whether reported changes in case mix come from coding improvements rather than from service-mix changes. The HSCRC wants to work with hospitals and payors to establish limits on case mix growth each year. Hospitals may select their own auditor and must complete an annual audit of 1% of their cases. Results must be submitted to the HSCRC 120 days after their final case mix data submission. Audits will begin with FY 2005, and the audit results are due in January 2006.
5. In July, the HCC released its annual Report on Licensed Acute Care Hospital Bed Capacity. The total licensed capacity for a hospital equals 140% of that hospital's average daily census during a 12-month reporting period. The calculation of licensed beds for FY 2005 shows a total acute care general hospital capacity of 10,321 beds in Maryland, which is a 255 bed increase from FY 2004. Effective July 1, 2004, 37 hospitals were approved for increases to licensed bed inventories, while 9 hospitals must operate over the next year with fewer beds. The largest individual bed increases are to Good Samaritan Hospital (27 beds), St. Joseph Medical Center (26 beds) and Johns Hopkins Hospital (24 beds). The largest reductions are from GBMC (14 beds) and Johns Hopkins Bayview (8 beds).