Lt. Governor Brown Presents $200,000 Check to Anne Arundel Health System to Fund Health Enterprise Zone
Proposal Aims to Improve Health Outcomes and Reduce Costs by Providing Additional Primary Care Options in Underserved Area of Downtown Annapolis
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (April 15, 2013) — Today, Lt. Governor Anthony G. Brown held a press conference at the Morris H. Blum Senior Apartment Complex, where he presented leadership from Anne Arundel Health Systems (AAHS) with a ceremonial check for $200,000 to fund their Health Enterprise Zone (HEZ) in downtown Annapolis. The proposal, put forth by AAHS, the City of Annapolis and several other local partners, seeks to establish a new patient-centered medical home inside the senior housing facility in order to improve health outcomes and reduce preventable hospital admissions. House Speaker Michael E. Busch, Annapolis Mayor Joshua J. Cohen, AAHS President and CEO Victoria Bayless, Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Secretary Dr. Joshua M. Sharfstein, Community Health Resources Commission Chair John A. Hurson, community health organizations, and several other state and local officials also participated in the announcement.
“We're making sure that the areas in our state with the most serious health care challenges and disparities get the resources they need through innovative and collaborative partnerships,” said Lt. Governor Brown. “For the seniors living in the Morris H. Blum Apartments and residents in the surrounding community, this new patient-centered medical home is going to mean the difference between taking an elevator to see their doctor and taking an ambulance to the emergency room. As a result of this increased access to quality, affordable care close to home, we’re going to see a healthier community where no one is forced to choose between seeing a doctor and providing for themselves or their families.”
“I am pleased to join Lt. Governor Anthony Brown in announcing Annapolis as one of the first communities to be named a Health Enterprise Zone,” said Speaker Michael Busch. “Too often, people avoid seeking care because of barriers to treatment that could be easily overcome. Today’s announcement is a giant step forward in addressing the health disparity issues in our community.”
Anne Arundel is among the first five locations in Maryland designated as Health Enterprise Zones (HEZs) earlier this year at an event in Annapolis. Championed by the Lt. Governor and jointly administered by the Community Health Resources Commission (CHRC) and Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH), the HEZ Initiative is a four-year pilot program with a budget of $4 million per year. Community coalitions in each of the five areas will receive a range of incentives, benefits, and grant funding to address unacceptable and persistent health disparities.
"This designation of a Health Enterprise Zone at Morris Blum Apartments will bring quality healthcare to some of Annapolis' most vulnerable citizens,” said Annapolis Mayor Josh Cohen. “This targeted investment in an area with a high incidence of chronic and preventable disease is an innovative and cost-effective way to improve health care while also reducing long-term health care costs. I am grateful to Lt. Governor Anthony Brown, Dr. Josh Sharfstein, and the O'Malley-Brown Administration for their leadership in advancing healthcare throughout our state. I also applaud Anne Arundel Medical Center President and CEO Tori Bayless and Dr. Patricia Czapp, along with Housing Authority Chairman Carl Snowden and Executive Director Vince Leggett, for their collaborative public-private partnership in successfully competing for this grant.”
Subject to annual approval, AAHS will receive a total of $800,000 over the next four years to implement their proposal, which seeks to improve public health outcomes in an underserved area in downtown Annapolis with high rates of emergency room utilization, hospital admissions and readmissions, and medical emergency 911 calls. The plan establishes a new patient-centered medical home (PCMH) at the Morris H. Blum Senior Apartments, which is owned and operated by the City Housing Authority.
“We are very pleased to partner with the Housing Authority of the City of Annapolis to address health care needs and health disparities in one of Maryland’s first Health Enterprise Zones,” said Victoria Bayless, President and CEO of Anne Arundel Health System. “While it will take some time to assess the ultimate success of this project, we look forward to bringing primary care services to where people need them.”
By adding one full-time physician, two full-time medical assistants, and one full-time case manager, the new PCMH will have the capacity to serve additional patients within a one mile radius and others within the City of Annapolis. The primary care physician will provide on-site patient-centered care 40 hours over five days each week. In addition, the Morris Blum primary care office will be on a full-service electronic medical record system which connects the hospital, area specialists, and patients to their medical records. With these changes, they are hoping to see improved chronic disease management and consequent decreases in medical 911 calls, emergency room visits, hospital admissions and readmissions.
“The partnership’s commitment builds on Anne Arundel Medical Center’s experience and success in providing care to the medically underserved in our community,” says Dr. Patricia Czapp, Anne Arundel Health System’s Chair of Clinical Integration. “This primary care medical home will treat infants, children and adults in the surrounding community who are uninsured, underinsured or have public coverage. By having a regular doctor in a regular site, patient-physician relationships strengthen and care improves.”
The HEZ program was established by the Maryland Health Improvement & Health Disparities Reduction Act, signed into law in April 2012. The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the Community Health Resources Commission (CHRC) issued a Call for Proposals in October 2012 through which community organizations and local health departments could apply for HEZ designation status, to be awarded on a competitive basis. Applications were evaluated based on a set of 13 review principles by an independent HEZ Review Committee comprised of experts in the fields of public health, health disparities, and health care delivery. Areas designated as HEZs will have access to a range of incentives that include state income tax credits; hiring tax credits; loan repayment assistance; priority entrance into the state’s Patient Centered Medical Home Program; priority for available state electronic health record grant funding; additional grant funding from the Community Health Resources Commission; and capital grant support.
"This innovative project will bring unprecedented focus to supporting the health of an at-risk population. I thank all of the partners for their role and commitment to success," said DHMH Secretary Dr. Joshua Sharfstein.
"The Health Enterprise Zone Initiative will provide an important framework for our ongoing efforts to reduce health disparities, expand access, and improve overall population health," commented CHRC Chairman John Hurson. "The CHRC is delighted to support Health Enterprise Zones and implement the program jointly with DHMH."
The purposes of the HEZ Initiative are to: (1) Reduce health disparities among racial and ethnic minority populations and among geographic areas; (2) Improve health care access and health outcomes in underserved communities; and (3) Reduce health care costs and hospital admissions and readmissions. To receive designation as an HEZ, community coalitions identified contiguous geographic areas with measurable and documented economic disadvantage and poor health outcomes and proposed a creative plan for targeted investments in community health. Nineteen coalitions submitted proposals in fall 2012. The other four proposals chosen for the pilot program along with Anne Arundel were for HEZs located in Capitol Heights in Prince George’s County, Dorchester and Caroline Counties, West Baltimore, and St. Mary’s County.
For additional information about the HEZ Initiative, please visit http://dhmh.maryland.gov/healthenterprisezones/SitePages/Updates.aspx.
Lt. Governor Brown leads the O’Malley-Brown Administration’s efforts to reduce costs, expand access, and improve the quality of care for all Marylanders. Under the leadership of Governor O’Malley and Lt. Governor Brown, Maryland has implemented reforms that have expanded health coverage to more than 375,000 Marylanders, half of whom are children, established Maryland’s Health Benefit Exchange, and put the State in position to maximize the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Independent analysis by the Hilltop Institute at the University of Maryland Baltimore County has found that implementation of the ACA will benefit the state’s budget by $672 million through 2020, generate more than $3 billion in annual economic activity, cut the number of uninsured in half, and create more than 26,000 jobs.