1. In January, the Maryland Health Care Commission (MHCC) released its annual health care expenditures report, summarizing the total reimbursement for health care services provided in the State during 1998. Maryland's total health care spending in 1998 was $3,064 per resident. This was an increase of 5.3%, a rate that was similar to that of the nation. Hospital services accounted for 34.1% of total health care expenditures in 1998, compared to 34.4% in 1997. Physician services accounted for 24.9% of expenditures, compared to 24.4 in 1997. Other professional health care services, including services provided by non-physician providers and ambulatory surgery centers, accounted for 11.1% of expenditures in 1998, compared to a 11.4% share in 1997. Out-of-pocket expenditures grew 3.3% in 1998, compared to a national increase of 3.5%.
2. In January, the MHCC recommended that the General Assembly delay consideration of a merger between the MHCC and the Health Services Cost Review Commission (HSCRC) until 2001. The General Assembly had ordered a preliminary report on a possible merger between the agencies be submitted in January 2000. Both agencies are involved in major projects that will take considerable time to complete. The HSCRC is redesigning the hospital rate setting system, and the MHCC is still working on its consolidation with the Health Resources Planning Commission.
3. In January, the MHCC approved an amendment to the State Health Plan Chapter on Organ Transplant Services that lowers the threshold volume standard for autologous stem cell and bone marrow transplants from 20 to 10 cases annually. Ten cases per year is consistent with standards set forth by the accrediting body for hemotopietic cell therapy. The lower volume thresholds could trigger a round of CON applications for this service.