1. In May, the Health Services Cost Review Commission (HSCRC) announced new hospital rates for the fiscal year beginning July, 2012. On average, Maryland hospitals' maximum charge per inpatient case will decrease 1% compared to the current year, while outpatient charges will be permitted to rise 2.59%. The HSCRC announced this negative update factor to respond to pressure on Maryland's long-standing Medicare waiver. The waiver allows Maryland hospitals to charge Medicare for inpatient services at rates set by the HSCRC under Maryland's unique all-payor case rate system, rather than under Medicare-set rates, but only so long as the percentage growth (calculated since the waiver was instituted) in Maryland inpatient charges to Medicare per admission remains below the percentage growth in such charges nationally.
2. In May, the HSCRC also announced that it would continue to grant the Maryland Patient Safety Center approximately $1.2 million in funds generated through hospital fees. The Center, operated in part by the Maryland Hospital Association, is a Maryland private non-profit organization chartered by the Maryland legislature in 2003. The Center attempts to reduce hospital "adverse events" (such as hospital acquired infections) through voluntary reporting, research, and provider education regarding best practices.
3. In April, the Maryland Health Care Commission (MHCC) released a report analyzing trends in personal health care expenditures on behalf of Marylanders in 2009-2010. The report estimated that in 2010, Maryland health care providers received an average of $7,698 per Maryland resident. This estimate represents a 3.5% increase in nominal terms over reported 2009 figures, as well as an amount 8.9% larger than estimated per capita expenditures nationwide in 2010. The MHCC relied on federal data for both its Maryland and federal calculations, but excluded costs attributable to government spending on public health programs.
4. In April, Maryland's Board of Dental Examiners repealed a regulation that required dentists advertising "mercury-free" dental fillings to include a disclaimer stating that: "The National Institutes of Health has determined that there are no verifiable systemic health benefits resulting from the removal of mercury amalgams." The Board, however, reiterated its belief that mercury amalgams are safe.