1. In March, the Maryland Health Care Commission (HCC) unveiled an Assisted Living Guide on its web site www.mhcc.state.md. us/ assistedliving/index. Consumers can search for assisted living facilities (providing 10 or more licensed beds) by facility name, zip code, county or services. By clicking on "Facility Compare," consumers may set up their own comparison of several assisted living facilities by choosing specific characteristics, such as level of care, rates, number of residents, number of beds, clinical services and ownership information. 2. HCC Chairman Stephen Salamon has appointed a Certificate of Need (CON) Task Force that will conduct a stakeholder driven review of the administrative, regulatory and statutory provisions of the CON program. Some of the its objectives are to recommend: (1) modifications to the scope of services and facilities regulated under the CON program; (2) enhancements to the CON review process; and (3) changes in the way the HCC monitors CON projects under development. The Task Force will submit recommendations to the full Commission, and the HCC is scheduled to vote on an implementation plan in December 2005. 3. In May, the Governor appointed Dr. Rex Cowdry as the new executive director of the HCC. Dr. Cowdry served as the associate director of the White House Economic Council in 2003 and 2004, focusing on health care policy. Dr. Cowdry worked at the National Institute of Mental Health for over 20 years, and has been medical director of NAMI, the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill. 4. In April, the Health Services Cost Review Commission (HSCRC) approved a 4.98% rate increase to inpatient hospital rates and a 3.98% increase to hospital outpatient rates. The HSCRC also approved 0.2% to be added to rates to fund additional nursing slots at nursing schools throughout the State. The rate increases become effective on July 1, 2005.