Health Care Committee

Join A Committee
The Health Care Committee focuses its attention on federal and state health care policy, and its impact on the cost of doing business and business operations. The committee fosters and promotes health and wellness programs and policies that promote a healthy workforce. The committee also monitors local health issues, including matters of public health, to ensure the business community is aware of and educated on emerging health concerns and can educate its workforce when appropriate.

Committee Staff:

For information about this committee, contact Brian Levine |

What does the committee do:

  • In 2014, the GBC Health Care Committee formed an exclusive partnership with the Maryland Chapter of the American Diabetes in a year-long pilot program “CEOs Stopping Diabetes.” Data has shown that when CEO’s personally lead corporate wellness programs the results improve dramatically in terms of compliance. The GBC recruited six of its CEOs to take part in this program. The CEOs came from both large and small companies with diverse types of employees ranging from investment bankers to young techies. Each CEO was encouraged to initiate and lead his or her own programs to promote corporate wellness. At the end of the pilot year, an evaluation will be made of each program but early reports have already shown that the CEO engagement made a difference and inspired workers to pursue a healthier lifestyle.
  • For the last two years, the Health Care Committee has worked closely with the Healthiest Maryland initiative under the auspices of the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. As a partner in the Healthiest Businesses component of Healthiest Maryland, the Health Care Committee signed up 130 private companies to participate in programs that would encourage workforce wellness.
  • This year the Health Care Committee hosted a series of experts on different aspects of the implementation of the Affordable Care Act in order to learn more about how the ACA will affect hospitals, insurers and businesses in Maryland.

2016 Health Care Committee news:

Gabriel Auteri, Deputy Chief of Staff for the Baltimore City Health Department, and Mark L. O’Brien, Director of Opioid Overdose Prevention and Treatment for the Baltimore City Health Department, presented to the Health Care Committee at its October 4, 2016 meeting about how synthetic opioids, such as Fentanyl, are negatively impacting the health of Baltimore City residents.

Auteri began with a brief history of the health department, how it is structured and explained the framework for Healthy Baltimore 2020, or HB 2020, a five-year strategic blueprint for health in Baltimore City which outlines key priority areas, goals and activities.

O’Brien delivered a presentation about opioids and the health department’s plan to combat the effects of Fentanyl on a person through the use of the drug Naloxone, which is used to treat a narcotic overdose in an emergency situation. He ended the presentation by showing how to effectively administer the drug to someone who might be suffering from an overdose.

The Health Care Committee heard from Dr. Samuel Ross, CEO of Bon Secours Baltimore Health System, at its June 15, 2016 meeting. Dr. Ross discussed the hospital’s implementation of the Community Oriented Primary Care (COPC) model which he implemented after arriving in Baltimore from Parkland Hospital in Texas.

COPC has four components: identify the community; together with the community you diagnose and agree on what the issues are (transportation, housing, dental care, jobs, health care); mutually agree on interventions; and implement and measure results. The goal is to have a continuous improvement cycle.  Housing is a huge problem in the neighborhood in proximity to Bon Secours and the hospital has purchased 119 low income housing units. The commitment Bon Secours has made it to address the social determinants of health.

At its April 13, 2016 meeting, the Health Care Committee heard from The Coordinating Center, a nonprofit funded by the Health Enterprise Zones legislation that provides funding to address health disparities in underserved communities. The Coordinating Center works directly with 1,200 clients in West Baltimore. The committee will be working to ensure that funding for the Health Enterprise Zones continues as it expires next year.

The Health Care Committee learned about The Medi Community Resource Center (CRC) at its February 8, 2016 meeting. The CRC is a virtual support center that works to help social service organizations develop a culture of collaboration through education and the use of technology, said Larry Gourdine, who delivered the presentation.

The CRC, which is powered by Healthify, allows organizations to search for a plethora of behavioral health services, community-based organizations and social services and share resource information with patients and colleagues quickly and accurately when referring them to community and social services, Gourdine said. The CRC serves as a community utility to connect people to services they need.

2015 Health Care Committee news:

The Health Care Committee got a preview of the nationally acclaimed “Mental Health First Aid” training which the GBC is offering to all of its members on Dec. 16, 2015. The training stems from the committee’s year long work to identify ways to modify corporate culture so that mental and behavioral health issues are not stigmatized.

The Mental Health First Aid training is designed for employers and employees and offers simple, appropriate ways to identify and address mental health issues.

A staggering one in four Americans will have a diagnosable mental disorder at some point in their lives, said Christiane Walker, Chief Development Officer for Mosaic Community Services, Maryland’s largest community-based behavioral health service provider, at the committee’s Nov. 3, 2015 meeting.

Anxiety is among the most prevalent mental illnesses, said Julie Fultz of Mosaic.

In fact, approximately 18.1 percent of American adults − or 42 million people − live with anxiety disorders, such as panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), generalized anxiety disorder and phobias, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Meanwhile suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. (more common than homicide) and the third leading cause of death for ages 15 to 24.

Because of the stigma associated with mental illness, it is often brushed under the rug, Fultz said. Having open discussions about mental health in the workplace is key to reducing the stigma and improving overall corporate wellness.

To learn more about the mental health first aid training or to register, click here.

Van Mitchell, Maryland’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene secretary, addressed the Health Care Committee at its Sept. 22, 2015 meeting. He covered a variety of topics, including the structure of his department, Maryland’s health care exchange, the Affordable Care Act and mental health.

The Health Care Committee continued its discussion about behavioral health at its June 17, 2015 meeting. Dr. Steven S. Sharfstein, president and chief executive officer of the Sheppard Pratt Health System, spoke about behavioral and mental health at the committee’s June meeting.

Here are his top five takeaways:

  • Approximately 25 percent of the population suffers from diagnosable disorders, including anxiety and depression.
  • People who suffer from more serious behavioral and mental health disorders, such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, are best treated in a community setting. Left untreated, some may become homeless or criminalized, which is a public health problem.
  • Employing people who are actively psychotic in meaningful, paid jobs can be more powerful than medicine.
  • Ten percent of Baltimore’s population – 65,000 residents – are addicts. “Baltimore City is ground zero when it comes to heroin addiction,” Sharfstein said.
  • A component of corporate wellness, which includes behavioral health, is relationships. Walking groups are one way coworkers can socialize, promote positive relationships and focus on healthy lifestyles.

The Health Care Committee began the second year of its partnership with the American Diabetes Association to expand the successful CEOs Stopping Diabetes program. Jay Ridder, Managing Partner, Ernst & Young; Todd Marks, CEO, MindGrub; Mary Furlong; CFO, Lupin Pharmaceuticals; Brian White, CEO, Northwest Hospital; and August Chiasera, President, Greater Baltimore/Chesapeake, M&T Bank, join the six CEOs who participated last year. The committee is starting to study behavioral and mental health issues in the workplace with an overview at its April 7, 2015 meeting.

The following panel of experts spoke about behavioral health in the workplace at the committee’s April 7 meeting: Clare Miller, director, Partnership for Workplace Mental Health, American Psychiatric Foundation; Dr. Daniel Winn, vice president and senior medical director, CareFirst; and Jeff Richardson, executive director, Mosaic, Maryland’s largest community-based behavioral health provider.

View Dr. Winn’s presentation about Behavioral Health and Substance Abuse and Miller’s presentation about Partnership for Workplace Mental Health.

At its March 10, 2015, meeting Dr. H. Neal Reynolds, associate professor of medicine, University of Maryland School of Medicine; associate director, Multi-Trauma Intensive Care Unit, RAC Shock Trauma Center; and chairman, Clinical Advisory Group for the Maryland Telemedicine Task Force, made a presentation about Advancing Telehealth through Innovative Care Projects.

Meanwhile, Dr. Marc T. Zubrow, associate professor, Medicine Program in Trauma, University of Maryland School of Medicine; eCARE medical director; vice president, Telemedicine, University of Maryland Medical System, made a presentation about Tele-Health at UMMS.

Industry news:

For some people the holiday season is an opportunity for more time spent with family and friends at special gatherings. Others may not cherish this time of year as they are overwhelmed by regular every day stressors (finances, family care, illness, work) which may create feelings of sadness, irritability, anxiousness, defeat or depression. There is no “one size fits all” when it comes to how we maneuver the holidays.

“When stress is excessive, it can contribute to everything from high blood pressure, also called hypertension, to asthma to ulcers to irritable bowel syndrome,” said Ernesto L. Schiffrin, M.D., Ph.D., physician-in-chief at Sir Mortimer B. Davis-Jewish General Hospital, and professor and vice chair of research for the Department of Medicine at McGill University in Montreal. More research is needed to determine how stress contributes to heart disease, but stress may affect behaviors and factors that increase heart disease risk: high blood pressure and cholesterol levels, smoking, physical inactivity and overeating. Some people may choose to drink too much alcohol or smoke cigarettes to “manage” their chronic stress, however these habits can increase blood pressure and may impede heart health (American Heart Association).

During this joyful season, it is likely that many people will experience moments that are stress inducing. Remember that you are not alone, and there are resources available to help you cope and find comfort during this busy time of year.

Financial Stress

It is not uncommon to worry about bills and everyday expenses, or facing the reality that purchasing gifts will escalate those financial woes.  According to the American Psychological Association, money still tops the list of greatest stressors in the American household, and continues to have an impact on health and well-being. Budgeting and shopping conscientiously may clear the way to a more positive spending experience this season. Check out some of the tips offered by Forbes to stay kind to your wallet.

Food Stress

For those struggling with addictions to food, alcohol or other drugs, the dinner parties and celebratory expectations of the holidays can generate added temptation and negative feelings. Building support now can create a path for resilience when stressful situations arise.  Explore the resources below to help you plan ahead and conquer the holiday madness!

Prevention Magazine

Group Health Foundation

Pat Moore Foundation

The Ranch

Emotional Stress

Between planning your holiday schedule, coordinating with family and friends, cooking, shopping and traveling, a little stress is normal. If you start to feel overwhelmed, like the stress is building and building, remember these tips for keeping cool during this time of year.

Cleveland Clinic

Psychology Today

Source: Healthiest Maryland

Md. heroin task force urges more treatment for addicts, crackdown on dealers

A state task force created to combat a growing heroin and opiate problem in Maryland issued its final set of nearly three dozen recommendations to Gov. Larry Hogan.

The final report of the Maryland Heroin and Opioid Emergency Task Force contains 33 recommendations ranging from expansion of treatment services and drug prevention education as well as expanded law enforcement efforts, including the use of the Maryland National Guard, expansion of the state’s racketeering and corruption laws and a  measure to impose criminal sanctions on dealers who provide drugs that result in an overdose. The 142-page report does not, however, contain estimates on the costs of implementing any of the proposals.

“The governor will review the recommendations and then move forward with the next steps,” said Douglass Mayer, a Hogan spokesman.

Some of the recommendations could be implemented at the state agency level. Others that might need approval of the General Assembly could become part of Hogan’s legislative package, according to Mayer.

The report calls on the legislature to:

  • Toughen the state’s racketeering and corruptions laws by making them more like federal statutes.
  • Impose criminal sanctions for dealers who sell doses of drugs that result in fatal overdoses, a measure that died in the General Assembly last year.
  • Create a day reporting center and imposition of swift and certain punishments for those on probation.

The recommendations appear to come from proposals under discussion by the state Justice Reinvestment Coordinating Council, which was created by the legislature earlier this year.

Included in the recommendations is a call to expand the use of the Maryland National Guard Counterdrug Program. The unit, which has been in existence since 1989, is federally funded. Its $2.7 million budget last year employed 29 full-time criminal analysts and drug prevention specialists who conduct outreach at area schools, according to Lt. Col. Charles Kohler, a spokesman for the state Military Department.

The program also provides air surveillance assistance to local law enforcement agencies and was involved in about a dozen operations involving 389 flight hours that resulted in more than 100 arrests as well as the seizure of drugs, vehicles and money.

Kohler said officials hope to expand the number of analysts in the program to allow local police departments to put more officers out on the street.

This is the second set of recommendations offered by the group formed by Hogan earlier this year.

In August, Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford, who chaired the panel, released a set of recommendations that he said could be immediately addressed and included $2 million for treatment as well as grants to local police departments for license plate readers and for increased access to medications to counteract overdoses.

Sen. Kathy Klausmeier, D-Baltimore County and a member of the task force, said she was satisfied with the effort.

“I feel like there is a lot to it and a lot of the things in it we think we can accomplish.” Klausmeier said. “Is it going to be the silver bullet? Of course not.”

Klausmeier said she plans on sponsoring a bill based on one of the recommendations that will require physicians to register with a state database tracking the prescription and dispensing of opiate medications. The bill would phase in the program over three years.

The bill has been introduced in previous sessions. Klausmeier acknowledged there are concerns that an existing state computer system that would be used for the program may not be adequate.

For some, the recommendations were underwhelming.

Mike Gimbel, a former heroin addict and treatment advocate who was the head of substance abuse services in Baltimore County for 23 years, called the report ”heavy on words but light on real action.”

“Most of the recommendations are already happening in our schools, churches, prisons and communications,” Gimbel said. “What is not available is long-term, drug-free treatment on demand for the state. We need to create a 1,000 treatment beds across the state. Anything less than that is a joke and is just a bunch of political posturing.”

The task force report acknowledges the need for more widely available treatment options and recommends the creation of a separate group inside the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to study the issue.

Mayer, the governor’s spokesman, said costs of the programs and what will be in the budget won’t be announced until January.

“Clearly some of this will have some effect on the budget,” Mayer said. “The governor, as always, will look at each option and make the decisions that are best for Maryland.”

Source: The Daily Record, Dec. 1, 2015