1. In April, the Health Services Cost Review Commission (HSCRC) released its annual hospital disclosure report. The payment per hospital admission in Maryland increased 2.29%, from $7,731 in 1998 to $7,908 in 1999. This is the lowest rate of growth in 20 years. Last year, hospitals incurred approximately 8 cents of uncompensated care cost for every dollar of total operating cost. Net profits for Maryland hospitals decreased by 27%, from $218,105,500 in 1998 to $159,809,400 in 1999.
2. In February, three entities-two in Baltimore County and one in Harford County- relinquished unimplemented Certificates of Need (CONs) for hospice services because of reduced Medicare payment levels. Additionally, the Hospice of Queen Anne's decided it could not afford to implement its CON for home health services.
3. The Maryland Health Care Commission (HCC) has been asked by the Governor and General Assembly to expedite its study of open heart surgery from the CON perspective. HCC was asked to look at a range of regulatory options to replace CON, such as licensure and quality of care standards. HCC agreed to forward its report to the Governor and General Assembly by October 1, 2000.
4. In June, the HCC and HSCRC released their final joint report on the potential merger of the two Commissions. The report, required by a law passed in 1999, recommended that the two Commissions should not merge. The functions of the two Commissions were found to be sufficiently different that a merger would not result in significant savings. Also, the report noted that a merger would increase the workload of the volunteer Commissioners to such an extent that it could be a barrier to attracting qualified individuals. Both Commissions have pledged to continue to work together to assure cooperation in areas of shared interest, including data coordination, ambulatory surgery and hospital capital projects.