Health Care Committee

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Chair: Bonnie Phipps, CPA, FHFMA, Senior Consultant, Yaffe & Company

Staff: Donald C. Fry, 410-727-2820

Description: The Health Care Committee’s focus is to foster health-conscious workplaces within the Greater Baltimore region by educating members on emerging health concerns. In addition, the committee monitors federal and state health care policy, and its impact on the cost of doing business and business operations.

Membership: Membership in the Health Care Committee is open to all GBC members.


2021 Health Care Committee news:

The GBC Health Care Committee, chaired by Bonnie Phipps, CPA, FHFMA, Senior Consultant, Yaffe & Company, met on December 1, 2021 to discuss issues of equity in health care. Maryland Senator Mary Washington gave a presentation on the implementation of the Shirley Nathan-Pulliam Health Equity Act 2021 (SB52/HB87), which established the Maryland Commission on Health Equity. Senator Washington outlined the role of the Commission: to advise on issues of racial, ethnic, cultural and socioeconomic health disparities using a health equity framework; develop a comprehensive health equity plan to address the social determinants of health; and set goals for achieving health equity in alignment with other statewide planning activities. The Commission has already begun its work, and Senator Washington and committee members discussed ways in which GBC members could contribute in an advisory fashion. Ms. Phipps led a discussion about strategies to increase coordination between private stakeholders in health care fields.

The Health Care Committee’s next meeting will be held on March 9, 2022, at 8:30 a.m.

The Health Care Committee met on July 7, 2021, for a two-part discussion on GBC’s health care policy goals. Led by Committee Chair Bonnie Phipps, CPA, FHFMA, Senior Consultant, Yaffe & Company, the meeting began with a presentation titled “Addressing the Social Determinants of Health.” Phipps explained that social determinants are the conditions in peoples’ homes, workplaces, schools and communities that affect health and quality of life outcomes. Committee members then discussed how negative social determinants can be effectively mitigated by employer policies. The committee explored the GBC as a potential convener to determine strategies and facilitate collaboration with the providers, payers and employers who will ultimately create actionable policies. The committee then discussed vaccine hesitancy and the methods employers and the GBC may use to encourage their workers and the public to get the vaccine.

The Health Care Committee’s next meeting will be held on October 6, 2021, at 8:30 a.m.

2020 Health Care Committee news:

The Health Care Committee met on December 10, 2020, for a strategic discussion about priorities for 2021. The discussion sought to determine which policies, programs or initiatives the committee intends to advance in the next year. The committee discussed a wide range of possible focus areas, including education and outreach that focuses on encouraging people to get the COVID-19 vaccine, outreach efforts to educate the business community on health inequity issues as well as amplify the efforts already going on in the community, and helping businesses navigate the mental health crisis during COVID-19.

On October 15, 2020, the GBC Health Care Committee met and engaged in two great discussions. First, Adrea Turner, GBC’s Director of Strategic Initiatives and Senior Policy Advisor, previewed the healthcare-related observations and recommendations from the GBC Regional Workforce Development Report: Preparing for the FutureFollowing that, UnitedHealthcare’s Joe Ochipinti, Chief Executive Officer – Mid Atlantic Region, and Anton de Roo, Director Sales and Account Management, Key Accounts, led a discussion on UnitedHealthcare’s expansion in Maryland, including entry into the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange. They focused their remarks on how UnitedHealthcare, as a result of COVID, looked at how to enable the health system to be more virtual, support provider community and help consumers get care and coverage.

Dr. Leana WenOn May 19, 2020, the Greater Baltimore Committee (GBC) hosted a Newsmaker Speaker Series Zoom webinar focused on health care-related topics with national public health expert, Dr. Leana Wen. Dr. Wen provided an update on the coronavirus pandemic to the regional business community. She discussed considerations related to the relaxing of restrictions and returning to work and what businesses should be doing to prepare. GBC President and CEO Donald C. Fry moderated the discussion. Dr. Wen, who is an emergency physician and Visiting Professor of Health Policy and Management at George Washington University Milken School of Public Health and former Baltimore City Health Commissioner, suggested some things we can do to reduce the risk of each encounter, such as considering the distance between desks, suggesting staggered schedules and having students spend half a day outside.

Read more.

On April 28, 2020, the Greater Baltimore Committee (GBC) and its Health Care Committee hosted a virtual event focused on Baltimore City’s public-private partnerships. The event was moderated by Donald C. Fry, President and CEO of the GBC. Speaking on the institutional perspective of the Public-Private Partnership were Kevin Sowers, President of the Johns Hopkins Health System and Executive Vice President of Johns Hopkins Medicine; Dr. Mohan Suntha, President and Chief Executive Officer, University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS); and Brian Pieninck, President and Chief Executive Officer of CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield. In his opening remarks, Fry referenced how fortunate the region and state are for the partnerships being forged in Baltimore City. Institutional representatives spoke on just how imperative the partnership is for the state. Pieninck provided the insurance company’s perspective on the pandemic and its impact. Suntha noted that the partnership between University of Maryland Medical System and Johns Hopkins has been successful and explained the importance of the systems working collectively. Dzirasa and Gallagher provided an overview of the Public-Private Partnership and the processes that must take place in order to ensure its success.

Read more.

2019 Health Care Committee news:

In 2019, the Health Care Committee engaged in a variety of issues, including a presentation from Gracelyn McDermott, Kaiser Permanente’s Executive Director of Account Management, on improving health outcomes in the region and a briefing from Senator Brian Feldman, Vice-Chair of the Senate Finance Committee, on innovative health care policy solutions in Maryland. Earlier in the year, the Health Care Committee met with Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Letitia Dzirasa regarding her priorities. The committee also received a briefing about cannabis laws in Maryland from Jonathan Havens, Partner at Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr LLP. The first meeting of 2019 featured a presentation from Dr. Dan Durand, Chief Information Officer for LifeBridge Health on Sinai Hospital’s bioincubator.

The GBC Health Care Committee met on November 11, 2019 and heard a presentation from Kaiser Permanente’s Executive Director of Account Management, Gracelyn McDermott. McDermott focused her remarks on Kaiser Permanente’s efforts to improve health outcomes in Baltimore City and the region through investments and preventative care. A study commissioned by Kaiser Permanente found that company investments in housing, food, jobs and schools will equate to healthier Baltimore City residents and increased economic output. Increased investments have potential benefits that include reducing health care-related low productivity rates and absentee days. Baltimore City faces a myriad of health challenges, including high rates of obesity, heart disease and heroin abuse, which results in residents in poverty-stricken neighborhoods realizing lifespans 20 years shorter on average than in wealthier areas. Kaiser Permanente also discussed its expansion efforts in the Greater Baltimore region. The company projects that over the next 10 years through 2028, it will invest $13 billion in the region and grow its area workforce from 120,000 to 200,000.

The GBC Health Care Committee met on October 14, 2019 and was briefed by Senator Brian J. Feldman. Senator Feldman, who represents District 15 in Montgomery County, is Vice-Chair of the Senate Finance Committee and is a health care policy leader in Annapolis. Senator Feldman discussed how Maryland is implementing innovative health care policy solutions to increase those covered by health insurance. During the 2019 legislative session of the Maryland General Assembly, a bill sponsored by Senator Feldman passed and was signed into law that extends the existing State health insurance provider fee assessment through calendar 2023. In calendar 2020 through 2023, the amount of the assessment must be 1% on all amounts used to calculate the entity’s premium tax liability for the immediately preceding calendar year. Senator Feldman also discussed the passage of legislation that creates a Prescription Drug Affordability Board, which is meant to protect Maryland citizens from the high costs of prescription drug products. The Senator also discussed the Maryland Health Insurance Coverage Protection Commission, which was extended for three years through 2022. The Commission will recommend ways in which the State can provide health insurance to more people. Currently, 6% of Marylanders do not have health insurance. Finally, Senator Feldman discussed Maryland’s reinsurance program which is meant to keep insurance premiums affordable.

The Greater Baltimore Committee’s Health Care Committee met May 21, 2019 with new Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Letitia Dzirasa. Dr. Dzirasa was named Health Commissioner on March 11, 2019, replacing Dr. Leana Wen.

At the meeting Dr. Dzirasa discussed the role and duties of the Baltimore City Health Department, which is the oldest, continuously-operating health department in the United States. She also shared her priorities, which include a substance use disorder strategy, trauma informed care, health food priority areas and improved use of technology to track and share data in real time. Committee members and Dr. Dzirasa also discussed shared priorities and ideas for future collaboration.

Dr. Dzirasa earned a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, a Doctorate of Medicine from Meharry Medical College and served as a resident physician at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. Most recently, Dr. Dzirasa was Health Innovation Officer for Fearless Solutions.

The Greater Baltimore Committee’s Health Care Committee met on March 5, 2019 for a presentation about cannabis laws in Maryland. Jonathan Havens, Partner at Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr LLP, focused his remarks on the current state of Maryland’s cannabis laws and what lies ahead, including possible legalization of recreational use of marijuana. Currently, Maryland law allows for medical cannabis use for patients treating a qualifying medical condition.

The Health Care Committee also received information from Alexa Milanytch, Director of Development at Chase Brexton Health Care, on the AIDS Walk & Music Festival scheduled for June 9, 2019 at Power Plant Live in Baltimore.

The GBC Health Care Committee met on January 31, 2019 to hear a presentation from Dr. Dan Durand, Chief Information Officer for LifeBridge Health. Dr. Durand discussed Sinai Hospital’s bioincubator, the only one of its kind at a Maryland hospital. The bioincubator has a number of startup technologies and companies focused on digital health. In recent years, the digital ecosystem has created disruptive technologies that impact the health care ecosystem. Concurrent with the emergence of digital health technologies is investor funding and economic development opportunities, which LifeBridge Health is attempting to nurture through its bioincubator. So far, this effort has achieved success: 100 percent occupancy in the bioincubator, more than 15 patents accrued by tenants and more than $9 million in cumulative funding.

2018 Health Care Committee news:

The Greater Baltimore Committee’s Health Care Committee met with Brett McCone, Vice President for Rate Setting at the Maryland Hospital Association, at its December 6, 2018 meeting.

McCone provided a briefing on the State’s Total Cost of Care model, which is a system unique to Maryland that sets a per capita limit on Medicare costs. The purpose of Maryland’s waiver is healthier people and an economically sustainable system that helps control the costs of health care. For Maryland, this means the State provides very little in direct state subsidies for hospitals.

A new system, beginning in January 2019, will test whether the hospital-based All-Payer Model (all payers, including private, commercial, Medicare, Medicaid and self-pay are charged the same rate for the same service at hospitals) can be expanded to all health care providers.

McCone said that there are six keys to unlock the value of Maryland’s health care system: global hospital budgets; all-payer hospital rates; total care cost accountability; shared provider incentives; population health goals; and quality of care incentives.

The committee also discussed health care legislation that may be debated during the 2019 legislative session of the Maryland General Assembly, including an individual mandate and prescription drug cost controls.

The Greater Baltimore Committee issued a set of guidelines on October 2, 2018 to help employers manage opioid use and abuse in the workplace as part of a new initiative it has launched to help remedy this important workplace and public health issue.

The guidelines, which were developed by the GBC’s Health Care Committee, were made public at the GBC’s Best Practices for Employers Managing Opioid Abuse Forum on October 2, 2018 held at the University of Maryland BioPark.

At the forum five health care and human resources professionals engaged in a conversation about what employers can do to help manage employee opioid addiction, including alternative methods to treat pain and suggestions for how to avoid addiction. Clay B. Stamp, Executive Director of the Maryland Opioid Operational Command Center and Senior Emergency Management Advisor to the Governor, moderated a panel discussion with Dr. George Apostolides, Chief of Colorectal Surgery, Greater Baltimore Medical Center; Dr. Stephen Fisher, Medical Advisor to the CEO, Chesapeake Employers’ Insurance Company; Gaye Fortner, Chief Executive Officer, HealthCare 21 Employer Coalition; and Denise Galambos, Vice President of Human Resources, BGE.

The panel discussed the burden of opioid abuse on employers, best practices for employers in managing opioid abuse, the effectiveness of multi-modal pain management and opioid alternatives for post-surgical pain for reducing opioid abuse and the role of human resources departments and health insurance/workers compensation policies play in managing the abuse.

Read the “Best Practices for Employers Managing Opioid Abuse” guide.

Jeff Beeson, Deputy Director of Management Coordination for the Washington/Baltimore High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA), discussed the role of his organization at the GBC Health Care Committee’s September 18, 2018 meeting.

HIDTA works to disrupt the market for illegal drugs in the United States by assisting federal, state and local entities participating to dismantle and disrupt drug trafficking organizations, with particular emphasis on drug trafficking regions that have harmful effects on other parts of the United States.  There are currently 28 HIDTAs, including the Baltimore/Washington region. Beeson said that the Washington/Baltimore HIDTA is unique because Baltimore City originally was deemed a drug use area, not just a drug trafficking area. Today, there is an increase in lethal drugs on the streets, most notably fentanyl, an opioid often made illegally and mixed with heroin.

In Maryland, fentanyl overdose deaths surpassed heroin overdoses in 2016 for the first time. Beeson said that in order to combat this epidemic, which should be treated as a health crises, leaders must address increased use fentanyl, lack of real time data, insufficient information sharing and little to no consensus on what constitutes a spike in the abuse of drugs.

HIDTA has developed a case management system that can be used to share information with other states and jurisdictions to help fight addiction and stop trafficking. It is important to tackle the issue of opioid abuse as a health crises as well as a business issue.

The GBC Health Care Committee continued discussions at its July 10, 2018 meeting about a guide for employers which is meant to help businesses address opioid-related issues in the workplace and help to prevent addiction before it happens.

The Health Care Committee continued discussions about additional efforts, including a proposed briefing for the community that could bring further attention to the opioid crisis. At the conclusion of the meeting, the Committee held an open discussion regarding other projects and issues that could be addressed in the fall.

The Greater Baltimore Committee’s Health Care Committee’s May 15, 2018 meeting featured three presenters discussing a variety of health care issues that can affect the workplace.

Mark O’Brien, Vice President of State and Local Affairs for the Addiction Policy Forum, discussed his organization’s efforts to combat drug and alcohol dependency. The organization’s priorities to fight addiction include helping families in crises, expanding treatment, driving discovery, expanding recovery support, preventing addiction, protecting impacted children, reframing criminal justice and providing advocacy and education. More than 21 million Americans are suffering from substance use disorders.

Bonnie Phipps, Chair of the GBC Health Care Committee, provided an update on efforts to combat opioid abuse. First, Phipps updated the Health Care Committee on recommendations developed and presented to the Baltimore City Health Department’s Fentanyl Task Force’s regarding opioid-related insurance policies, which included best practices for prevention and treatment. She also discussed various strategies employers can use to address opioid-related issues in the workplace.

The next presentation was about the work of the Alzheimer’s Association and the impact of the disease. The discussion was led by the Alzheimer’s Association’s Greater Maryland Chapter Executive Director Cass Naugle and Development Director Ellen Torres. In 2017, more than 5.5 million Americans had Alzheimer’s dementia, making the disease a national health crises. Public policy goals in Maryland include supporting prevention and early identification, enhancing the quality of care, enhancing public awareness and improving data capacity to track progress.

The GBC Health Care Committee learned at its March 19, 2018 meeting about how federal tax law changes affect nonprofit organizations.

The presentation was delivered by KPMG’s Nancy Murphy, Principal, Exempt Organizations, and Preston Quesenberry, Managing Director, Exempt Organizations. Murphy began with an explanation about how the U.S. Congress debated and passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and then discussed how the tax package impacts a wide range of activities, including the corporate tax rate, the Alternative Minimum Tax, net operating losses, lobbying expenses, charitable donations and tuition-paying students.

With regards to nonprofits, Murphy and Quesenberry focused their presentation on the law’s effect on unrelated business taxable income provisions, colleges and universities and excise taxes on excess compensation.