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.
The purposes of the HEZ Initiative are to:
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.
Chapter 3 (Senate Bill 234) of 2012 established a process whereby the Secretary of the DHMH, in collaboration with the CHRC, designates HEZs. The purpose of establishing these zones is to target State resources to reduce health disparities, improve health outcomes, and reduce health costs and hospital admissions and readmissions in those zones. The bill also authorizes specialized tax credit incentives to "HEZ Practitioners" who practice in a zone.
For an HEZ to be designated by the Secretary, a non-profit community-based organization or local health department must apply to DHMH and CHRC with a comprehensive plan to address disparities in a defined geographic area. The bill contains several possible incentives that can be utilized to address disparities within the HEZ including:
The bill also requires the Maryland Health Care Commission to establish and incorporate a standard set of measures regarding racial and ethnic variations in quality and outcomes and track health insurance carriers’ and hospitals’ efforts to combat disparities. In addition, state institutions of higher education that train health care professionals will be required to report to the Governor and General Assembly on their actions aimed at reducing health care disparities.
Click here for more information on HEZ eligibility requirements.
Click here for an informational PowerPoint about HEZs.
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