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DHMH Press Releases : LT. GOVERNOR BROWN PRESENTS $1.25 MILLION CHECK TO FUND WEST BALTIMORE HEALTH ENTERPRISE ZONE



LT. GOVERNOR BROWN PRESENTS $1.25 MILLION CHECK TO FUND WEST BALTIMORE HEALTH ENTERPRISE ZONE

Proposal Aims to Expand Access to Primary and Preventive Care for 85,000 Residents in West Baltimore


BALTIMORE, Md. (July 29, 2013) -Lt. Governor Anthony G. Brown today held a press conference at the Bon Secours Community Support Center to present a ceremonial check for $1.25 million to fund the West Baltimore Primary Care Access Collaborative Health Enterprise Zone (HEZ), which will be managed by Bon Secours Baltimore Health System in partnership with several local community organizations.


“The West Baltimore Primary Care Access Collaborative HEZ will make a tremendous difference in the lives of 86,000 residents here by providing a vital set of services and resources designed to reduce health disparities,” said Lt Governor Anthony Brown. “By working together, and building on the efforts of leaders like Mayor Stephanie Rawlings Blake and Commissioner Oxiris Barbot, we’re going to give each and every Baltimorean the opportunity to live a healthy, productive lives.”


"Reducing health disparities for residents of Baltimore is vital for us to grow our city by 10,000 families,” said Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. “The economic incentives provided in this new zone will create significant changes in primary care, and great progress in preventative care. The goals of the Health Enterprise Zone align with my overall vision for a healthy Baltimore. I commend Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown for his leadership in guiding this important policy to fruition."


The West Baltimore HEZ was one of the first five locations in Maryland designated as a Health Enterprise Zone (HEZ) in January. 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.

"The West Baltimore Primary Care Access Collaborative is honored to be one of the five HEZ grantees! We are thankful for this opportunity to partner with Lt. Gov. Brown and the state on this innovative and transformative approach to addressing community health inequities, social determinants, and population health management," said Dr. Samuel L. Ross, Chief Executive Officer of Bon Secours Baltimore Health System.


Subject to annual approval, the Collaborative will receive a total of $5 million over the next four years to implement their proposal, which seeks to expand access to primary and preventative care by creating a community health infrastructure to serve the more than 85,000 residents of West Baltimore. The Collaborative is adding a total of 35 new health care practitioners, including 11 community health workers. As of this month, seven new primary care physicians and 14 registered nurses have already been hired. Additionally, during year one, they will be offering scholarships for 30 community residents to enter entry-level health care professional programs. Other unique aspects of the proposal include engaging community partners to provide access to fitness classes and exercise facilities, health and nutrition classes, and chronic disease management programs.


“On behalf of the residents in West and Southwest Baltimore whose lives and communities have been severely diminished by decades of inequities in public and private healthcare delivery systems,” said Maryland State Senator Verna Jones-Rodwell. “I congratulate and sincerely thank Lt. Governor Brown for his leadership, insightfulness and courage that delivered the long overdue attention and resources needed to address this social crisis in a meaningful and strategic way.”


“This is a very exciting opportunity for Bon Secours Baltimore Health System and the broad coalition of health, educational and community-based organizations that have committed themselves to improving health outcomes in West Baltimore,” said Maryland State Delegate Shirley Nathan-Pulliam. “As a Registered Nurse I have seen first-hand the health disparities in our minority communities and that's why I have worked for nearly two decades in the House of Delegates to institute policies that will make a significant difference in reducing health inequities. The Health Enterprise Zones, championed by Lt. Governor Brown, are a giant leap forward in tackling these pervasive disparities in Baltimore and in Maryland and will make a real impact among our most vulnerable citizens.”


The HEZ program was established by the Maryland Health Improvement & Health Disparities Reduction Act, signed into law in April 2012.  DHMH and the 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 HEZReview 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.


"The West Baltimore Primary Care Access Collaborative proposed innovative, unique efforts to improve the health of West Baltimore residents," said Dr. Joshua M. Sharfstein. "These efforts will increase access to primary care and improve outcomes."


"The Maryland Community Health Resources Commission is delighted to support the Health Enterprise Zone Initiative," commented Maria Tildon, Commissioner, CHRC. "The goals of the Health Enterprise Zones are critical -- to expand access in underserved communities, address health disparities, and help reduce hospital admissions and re-admissions."


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 West Baltimore were for HEZs located in Dorchester and Caroline Counties, Anne Arundel County, Prince George’s and St. Mary’s Counties.


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 391,000 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.


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