What is a HEZ?
Health Enterprise Zones Presentation
Chapter 3 (Senate Bill 234) of 2012 (http://mlis.state.md.us/2012rs/chapters_noln/Ch_3_sb0234T.pdf) establishes a process whereby the Secretary of the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH), in collaboration with the Community Health Resources Commission (CHRC), will designate Health Enterprise Zones (HEZ). The purpose of these zones will be to reduce health disparities, improve health outcomes, and reduce health costs and hospital admissions and readmissions in specific areas of the State.
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:
- Loan assistance repayment;
- Income tax credits;
- Priority to enter the Maryland Patient Centered Medical Home Program;
- Grant funding from CHRC; and
- Priority for receiving funds for establishing an electronic health records program.
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.
The FY 2013 budget allocates $4 million to the Community Health Resources Commission to fund the HEZ’s.