1. In January, the Maryland Health Care Commission (MHCC) finalized a report to the General Assembly recommending that new programs for obstetrics, open heart surgery, nursing homes, home health and hospice remain regulated by the state's Certificate of Need Program. MHCC staff conducted an extensive study of each program and provided the Commission with various options, including the deregulation of each service. The MHCC's recommendation also contains changes to the current State Health Plan that will better define the regulations. The General Assembly could accept or reject the MHCC's recommendations.
2. In January, the MHCC released the annual "State Health Care Expenditures Report: Experience from 1999." The report monitors the health care expenditures in the public and private sectors by the type of services rendered. Health expenditures for Maryland residents remains at 11% of personal income. Maryland experienced a 4.6% rate of growth in overall statewide health care spending in 1999, compared to a 6.4% estimated national rate of spending during the same time frame. Prescription drugs and physician services accounted for three-quarters of the increase. Expenditures for inpatient services continued to decline, while spending on outpatient services increased 1.5%. Patient out-of-pocket spending grew by 4%. For the first time in a decade, Maryland HMO enrollment did not increase. This was consistent with HMO enrollment nationwide.
3. In February, the MHCC released the third annual Maryland Ambulatory Surgery Directory. The directory, based on 1999 data, contains a profile of each provider, including the number of operating/procedure rooms and the number of cases performed from 1997-1999. In 1999, there were 291 ambulatory surgery facilities in the State: 244 free standing facilities and 47 hospital facilities. The free standing facilities were divided into 188 single specialty and 56 multi-specialty facilities. Hospitals performed 57% of the outpatient cases in 1999, compared to 62% in 1998.