New Interactive Tools Show Maryland in a Positive Light for Price and Some Health Indicators.

A new interactive mapping tool and accompanying issue brief, was released today by the Health Care Cost Institute (HCCI) with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. It illuminates the dramatic variation in medical care prices for different categories of medical services within communities and across the country.

Inpatient prices in Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, Maryland increased only 2.6 percent between 2012 and 2014 and had the lowest relative outpatient prices in the country.

The Commonwealth Fund’s Scorecard on State Health System Performance, 2017 Edition, assesses states on more than 40 indicators of health care access, quality, costs, and outcomes. Using this tool, you can see that Maryland ranked 9th on dimensions of Access to Care but 28th on Avoidable Hospital Use and Costs and an abysmal 48th on Medicare 30-day hospital readmissions

Poll: Majority believe the current administration is now responsible for ACA's future.

A new poll out today by the Kaiser Family Foundation, finds that a majority (64%) of the public, including most Republicans (53%), say that because President Trump and Republicans in Congress are now in control of the government, they are responsible for any problems with the ACA moving forward. The percentage of Republicans saying the Administration is responsible is up from just 34% earlier in April.

Baltimore Sun Letter to the Editor from Consumer Health First President

Gov. Larry Hogan's administration should be relatively pleased by Maryland's 7.5 (out of 10) rating in the 2017 National Health Security Preparedness Index developed by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation ("Report: Maryland better prepared than average for public health emergency," April 22).

However, it's critical to note that Maryland's ability to deal with a health-related emergency would be severely hurt by budget cuts and policy changes proposed by Congress and the Trump administration. These include major cuts to the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Of particular concern is a proposal included in the Republicans' American Health Care Act that would ax the entire budget for the Prevention and Public Health Fund, which focuses on preventive efforts that reduce health care costs.

These funding cuts, and the AHCA provisions to dramatically scale back Medicaid by turning it into a block grant program, completely contradict the adage "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." These spending reductions will, quite simply, put the lives of Marylanders at risk.

Every effort must be made to stop such cuts, and it is time for Governor Hogan to speak out against proposals that will only hurt Maryland and the entire nation.

Leni Preston - President, Consumer Health First

Consumer Health First In Action

As we are every year, Consumer Health First was very active in the General Assembly Session which will close on Monday, April, 10. A major focus of this year's legislative activity was to prepare the state for anticipated changes at the federal level that could adversely impact Marylanders’ access to health coverage and care.

“The Affordable Care Act remains under serious threat at the federal level,” said CHF Executive Director Jeananne Sciabarra. “Taking meaningful steps in Annapolis to preserve key aspects of the ACA was a critical priority for Consumer Health First. We applaud the legislature for acknowledging the value of the ACA to their constituents and taking steps to limit the harm that could be done to them through repeal efforts.”

Read our April 6 press release for more information about the bills we supported to protect the ACA in Maryland. For complete details of all the bills we supported this Session, go to our Legislative Page.

 Consumer Health First is also making sure consumers have a seat at the table if and when Congress announces cuts in funding to Medicaid as was initially proposed in the American Health Care Act. The bill, which failed to get enough support for a vote in the House at the end of last month, underwent some last minute efforts and late night sessions involving Vice President Pence this week to try and revive the bill for a vote prior to Spring Recess, but those have apparently died for now. 

Meanwhile, a provision added to the state budget at our request, requires state officials to partner with a range of stakeholders on any proposed changes to Medicaid. The budget requirement means consumer advocates, healthcare providers and other experts will have a role in changing Maryland’s Medicaid program in response to policy or budget changes passed by Congress. Read more about this in our April 3rd press release.

ACA vs. AHCA: A Vision of the Future

Last week brought good news in the fight to protect the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), but we fully expect to see further attacks on this legislation in the future. In fact, discussions are already brewing. Because the American Health Care Act (AHCA) provided insight into Republican plans to unwind the ACA and to radically restructure Medicaid, we decided to take a closer look.  

Consumer Health First hosted a webinar entitled "ACA vs AHCA - The Potential Impact in Maryland." The webinar reviewed the impact that the AHCA or similar legislation could have here in Maryland. In addition, it explored what steps could be taken to weaken the ACA through administrative actions.  

We are grateful to our webinar presenters for sharing their expertise:

  • Jeananne Sciabarra, Executive Director, Consumer Health First
  • Ellen Weber, Professor of Law and Director of the University of Maryland Carey School of Law Drug Policy Clinic
  • Joanna Diamond, Vice President of External Relations, Planned Parenthood of Maryland
  • Ben Turner, Program Director, Primary Care Coalition of Montgomery County

If you were unable to join the live presentation - don't worry! You can view or download a PDF of the slides, and listen to a live recording of the webinar.

Women’s History Month Rally Held In Annapolis

Consumer Health First was proud to support Women's History Month with a rally in Annapolis on Saturday  organized by Action Not Anger, and co-sponsored by:

The rally was a celebration and recognition of issues important to women, our families, and our communities. US Senator Chris Van Hollen, Congressmen Jamie RaskinJohn Sarbanes, and Consumer Health First President, Leni Preston, were among the speakers.

(L-R): Consumer Health First President, Leni Preston; Action Not Anger, Yvette Lewis; US Senator Chris Van Hollen

For local CBS coverage of the story with video  - click here.