1. In January, the Maryland Health Care Commission published a study suggesting that Maryland's ban on physician ownership of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machines did not actually reduce MRI use rates (after accounting for variables such as patient age). The Commission noted that lifting the ban would aid Maryland's push toward integrated care delivery, especially if coupled with reimbursement shifts toward accountable care (vs. fee for service). The Commission stopped short of recommending an end to the ban, instead recommending further study.
2. In February, the Maryland Board of Physicians finalized an overhaul of its process for physician discipline. Two major changes stand out. First, the Board may now issue "cease and desist" orders (backed by fines) to physicians accused of misconduct, and may do so before the physician is notified or heard on the underlying accusation, so long as the order addresses "a serious risk to patient safety." Second, dedicated disciplinary panels will now resolve physician misconduct allegations in individual disciplinary cases, a task previously assigned to the Board.
3. Citing a spike in Maryland opioid overdoses, the Board of Physicians also recently mandated that, to qualify for license renewal, each Maryland physician receive at least one unit of continuing medical education credit on the topic of opioid prescribing.