Union Hospi­tal seeks state leg­isla­tive sup­port



— Sup­port for its pe­di­atric part­ner­ship, a new he­li­pad at Singerly Fire Com­pany and help ad­dress­ing be­hav­ioral health prob­lems are some items Union Hospi­tal lead­er­ship hope to get help from Ce­cil County’s state law­mak­ers when the 2017 Mary­land Gen­eral As­sem­bly ses­sion be­gins Jan. 11.

Union Hospi­tal Pres­i­dent and CEO Dr. Richard C. Szumel presided over a leg­isla­tive meet­ing be­tween hospi­tal lead­er­ship and state law­mak­ers on Fri­day, his first since tak­ing over as pres­i­dent in Jan­uary. Dur­ing the meet­ing, he voiced three ini­tia­tives spe­cific to Ce­cil County that it would like help with for this up­com­ing 90-day ses­sion.

Union Hospi­tal is look­ing


for sup­port of their agree­ment with Ne­mours and Mary­land Med­i­caid (in­net­work provider) to of­fer in­surance for the pe­di­atric pa­tients treated through the Union Hospi­tal and Ne­mours part­ner­ship. The pe­di­atric part­ner­ship is also seek­ing leg­is­la­tion to re­quire Child Pro­tec­tive Ser­vices to sign off on a form sim­i­lar to the form used in Delaware for the dis­charge process of at-risk new­borns and needed fund­ing through Med­i­caid.

Fi­nally, Singerly Fire Com­pany, in par­tic­i­pa­tion with Union Hospi­tal, Uni­ver­sity of Mary­land Med­i­cal Sys­tem and the town of Elk­ton, is seek­ing funds for a new he­li­pad on its prop­erty.

Phillip Scott, pres­i­dent of Singerly Fire Com­pany, told law­mak­ers Fri­day that they have been the pri­mary 911 trans­port for this area since 2007 when Union Hospi­tal built its park­ing garage. How­ever, the orig­i­nal site was dis­rupted when Singerly was un­der­go­ing a ren­o­va­tion and ex­pan­sion a cou­ple of years ago.

“In or­der to pro­vide safer he­li­copter trans­ports for our com­mu­nity, a plan­ning com­mit­tee be­gan in March to de­sign a new site,” Scott said. “Mary­land State Po­lice sup­ports this project.”

Scott also told Union Hospi­tal of­fi­cials that Singerly has been in talks with State Sens. Stephen Her­shey (RUp­per Shore) and James E. DeGrange (D-Anne Arun­del), both of whom sup­port the project.

Union Hospi­tal is pro­vid­ing $40,000 for site en­gi­neer­ing work, but they are seek­ing $300,000 in the state bud­get to pay for con­struc­tion. If ap­proved, con­struc­tion is ex­pected to be­gin af­ter July 1.

“It’s been good work­ing with the town and the hospi­tal on this,” Scott said.

Szumel led the dis­cus­sion on the hospi­tal’s over­all pri­or­i­ties which mir­ror those sup­ported by the Mary­land Hospi­tal As­so­ci­a­tion.

“I want you all to know, first of all, we are fi­nan­cially strong, grow­ing and we are al­ready part­ners and are col­lab­o­rat­ing with many oth­ers to pro­vide safe, high-qual­ity health and well­ness ser­vices,” Szumel said.

How­ever, Szumel stressed that the hospi­tal op­er­ates in an in­creas­ingly chal­leng­ing en­vi­ron­ment com­pli­cated by its goals dur­ing a five- year ini­tia­tive to mod­ern­ize Mary­land’s unique all-payer rate-set­ting sys­tem for hos­pi­tals.

Un­der the ini­tia­tive, hos­pi­tals have to meet cer­tain goals and if they don’t reach them, they are fi­nan­cially pe­nal­ized at times.

“We’re told how much we can make each year,” Szumel said. “We want to keep this Medi­care waiver, but the com­mis­sion has stepped up penal­ties to us if we don’t meet spe­cific pa­ram­e­ters.”

The Health Ser­vices Cost Re­view Com­mis­sion in Mary­land con­trols the rates that hos­pi­tals charge, but they don’t con­trol the rates that med­i­cal doc­tor’s of­fice or nurs­ing homes charge.

“Ce­cil County has to com­pete with Chris­tiana Hospi­tal (in Delaware), which doesn’t have the same rules,” Szumel told the law­mak­ers.

Some of the re­quire­ments of the five-year plan that’s un­der­way in Mary­land put Union Hospi­tal at a dis­ad­van­tage on read­mis­sion rates be­cause of its prox­im­ity to Chris­tiana Hospi­tal, Szumel ex­plained.

De­spite that, Szumel said Union Hospi­tal is do­ing well with its demon­stra­tion project, which is now in its third year.

Union Hospi­tal asked law­mak­ers to push for bud­get ne­go­ti­a­tions to keep a $25 mil­lion an­nual spend-down com­mit­ment on a tax that be­gan in 2009 as tem­po­rary at $19 mil­lion but has grown to $365 mil­lion.

“It raises ev­ery hospi­tal bill by 2.3 per­cent and threat­ens suc­cess of the Medi­care waiver,” Szumel said.

Since Mary­land ranks ninth in the na­tion in per capita mal­prac­tice pay­outs, the hospi­tal wants law­mak­ers to re­ject trial lawyer’s ef­forts to in­crease caps on non-eco­nomic dam­ages and cre­ate a no-fault birth in­jury com­pen­sa­tion fund.

An­other top pri­or­ity of Union Hospi­tal is fund­ing needed to ad­dress be­hav­ioral health prob­lems.

“We are ask­ing for a pre­dictable an­nual re­im­burse­ment in­crease for be­hav­ioral health providers,” Szumel said, adding, “This is crit­i­cal.”

He also asked for much needed re­im­burse­ment for tele-health ser­vices and to block any leg­is­la­tion that pre­vents the ef­fi­cient de­liv­ery of care for be­hav­ioral health pa­tients.

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