News & Bulletins Archive

In collaboration with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and with support from the Commonwealth Fund, Hilltop examined the experience with Maryland’s Community First Choice (CFC) program to highlight lessons for state policymakers, as well as how CFC might inform the development of a new Medicare personal care benefit to help beneficiaries function independently at home. CFC is an optional Medicaid state plan benefit authorized by the Affordable Care Act that enables states to provide personal care services to Medicaid beneficiaries and receive an enhanced federal match of 6 percent for these services. Findings are reported in an issue brief from The Commonwealth Fund, an article in the Journal of Applied Gerontology, and a Hilltop data brief.

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The Hilltop Institute’s Advisory Board held its inaugural meeting on August 1, 2018, on the UMBC campus. Ten distinguished scholars, health sector executives, and clinicians were appointed to the Board by UMBC President Freeman A. Hrabowski, III and will provide counsel to Hilltop’s Executive Director, Cynthia Woodcock, on strategic direction to advance Hilltop’s mission. The Board will meet twice a year. Christopher Koller, president of the Milbank Memorial Fund, is the chair.

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Hilltop staff presented at the 2018 AcademyHealth Annual Research Meeting (ARM) in Seattle in June. The ARM is the gathering place for individuals leading the charge to transform delivery systems and health care in a rapidly changing landscape. Over the course of this three-day conference, more than 2,500 individual attendees work together to share and strengthen the evidence needed to inform the decisions that affect the health of individuals and communities.

Senior Policy Analyst Shamis Mohamoud, MA, gave a podium presentation, Evaluation of the Maryland Health Home Program for Medicaid Enrollees with Severe Mental Illnesses or Opioid Substance Use Disorder and Risk of Additional Chronic Conditions. Policy Analyst MaryAnn Mood, MA, presented a poster titled Community First Choice Implementation in Maryland, 2014-2016. To view the presentations, click on the titles.

A study in the April 2018 issue of the Journal of Health Politics, Policy, and Law investigated the relationship between state regulatory requirements and hospital community benefit expenditures using The Hilltop Institute’s online resource, the Community Benefit State Law Profiles and Internal Revenue Service data.

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Hilltop’s Jennifer Smith Gives 2017 Shinogle Award LectureOn Tuesday, November 28, Hilltop Senior Programmer and UMBC Public Policy PhD candidate Jennifer Kitlas Smith, MPH, gave the 2017 Judith A. Shinogle Memorial Award lecture at UMBC. Smith discussed her dissertation research, which focuses on the comparative effectiveness of two asthma treatments—medication administered by inhaler vs. medication administered orally.

Colleagues from Hilltop and UMBC’s School of Public Policy, faculty mentors, community leaders, friends, and family members joined Smith to celebrate her achievement. The award was established by Shinogle’s family in her memory to provide encouragement for UMBC Public Policy doctoral students committed to health policy research. Smith was selected by a faculty committee in recognition of her outstanding scholarship and research in health policy. At Hilltop, she performs SAS programming using Medicare, Medicaid, Maryland hospital data, and the Maryland All-Payer Database to assess quality, cost, and utilization patterns for the Medicaid/Exchange churn population, mental health, substance abuse, and dual eligible populations in order to analyze large health care data sets for quality of care, outcome measurement studies, and program assessment.

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Hilltop is pleased to announce the addition of two new senior directors: Jim Clavin, MBA, Chief Technology and Compliance Officer, and Alice Middleton, JD, Chief of Staff.

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Hilltop Senior Policy Analyst Charles Betley, MA, is a co-author of an article published in the journal Population Health Management titled Does the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Affect Hospital Utilization Among Older Adults? The Case of MarylandThe article presents the findings of a study, funded by a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which sought to examine whether Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participation and benefit levels are associated with reduced subsequent hospital and emergency department utilization in low-income older adults who are eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid (dual eligibles). Researchers found that while participation in SNAP did reduce hospitalizations, it did not reduce ED visits. The research team is a collaboration led by Benefits Data Trust (BDT) including BDT, Hilltop, the Johns Hopkins Schools of Nursing and Public Health, and Northwestern University. Organizational partners include the Maryland Departments of Health and Human Resources.

Hilltop staff made several presentations at the 2017 AcademyHealth Annual Research Meeting (ARM) in New Orleans. Hilltop staff presented posters at the State Health Research and Policy Interest Group Meeting on June 24. Senior Policy Analyst Charles Betley, MA, presented a poster titled Estimating State-Specific Costs of Medicaid Adult Dental Coverage Expansion Using Comparative State Data; Policy Analyst Jamie John, MPH, presented a poster titled Service Utilization and Expenditures among Adults with Diabetes in Maryland’s Medicaid Managed Care Program; and Policy Analyst MaryAnn Mood, MA, presented a poster titled Using Geocoding to Validate HCBS Provider Self-Assessments. In addition, Charles Betley delivered a short podium presentation on the poster above at a poster symposium at the main meeting on June 26. Finally, Director of Special Research Studies Michael T. Abrams, MPH, was a co-author of a poster presented at the main meeting on June 26 titled Promoting Entry into Evidence-Based Supported Employment in Maryland’s Statewide Public Program: A Population-Based Empirical Analysis. To view the presentations, click on the titles.

Hilltop Director of Special Research Studies Michael T. Abrams, MPH, PhD, and University of Maryland Baltimore (UMB) School of Pharmacy Professor Fadia T. Shaya, MPH, PhD, have won an Innovation Seed Grant from the UMB-UMBC Research and Innovation Partnership Grant Program for a project titled Prescription Opioid Exposure and Subsequent Opioid Dependence. Beginning July 1, 2017, for 15 months, Abrams and Shaya will use the $50,000 funding to conduct a case control study in a cohort of Maryland Medicaid adolescents and young adults aged 13 to 24 years to explore whether prior exposure to prescription opioids is associated with subsequent opioid dependence.

The Hilltop Institute is partnering with the Maryland Center for Developmental Disabilities (MCDD) at Kennedy Krieger Institute to improve disability data access and quality. The MCDD and Hilltop—along with another of the MCDD’s partners, the Interactive Autism Network (IAN) at Kennedy Krieger Institute—intend to convene key players in the disability system in Maryland to achieve this goal. They are currently in the planning stages of developing an interactive disability network, a comprehensive online disability data source and virtual community for Marylanders with developmental disabilities.

The MCDD, one of a national network of University Centers for Excellence funded by the Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, links the community to vital research and information to improve the lives of people with disabilities. Its mission is to provide leadership that advances inclusion for people with intellectual, developmental, and other disabilities. “I couldn’t be more pleased about the prospect of working with these two world-class teams, each of which brings unique but complementary strengths to the table,” said MCDD Director Chris Smith, PhD.

“Our team is looking forward to working with both the MCDD and IAN as we leverage our respective strengths to ensure decision-makers and the public have access to accurate, relevant, and meaningful information about disability,” said Hilltop Executive Director Cynthia Woodcock, MBA.

The Hilltop Institute partnered with the Maryland Health Care Commission to compare what commercial insurers paid for health care in Maryland against four other regions across the country during calendar year 2014. The study used a standard measure of costs from HealthPartners of Minnesota and required Hilltop to analyze Maryland’s All Payer Claims Database. The report, published by the Network for Regional Health Improvement in Portland, Maine, is available at

Hillltop’s Executive Director Cynthia Woodcock participated in a National Academy for State Health Policy (NASHP) webinar on January 10, 2017, titled Hospital Community Benefit Spending: How to Increase Investments in Population Health. The webinar explored the laws governing community benefit spending, discussed how changes in IRS rules could encourage more investment by hospitals in efforts to improve community health, and described what levers states have to engage on this issue. In her presentation, Woodcock discussed opportunities for states; more specifically, promoting community involvement in the community health needs assessment (CHNA) process; using regulatory tools to incentivize a focus on social and economic determinants of health; encouraging hospital transparency and accountability; and the implications of repeal and replace.

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The Hilltop Institute at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) has opened a search for two Deputy Directors.

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Hilltop Executive Director Cynthia Woodcock gave a presentation and participated in a roundtable at the 2016 Fall Research Conference of the Association for Public Policy & Management (APPAM), titled The Role of Research in Making Government More Effective, on November 3, 2016 in Washington, DC. The roundtable, titled State-University Partnerships: Generating Evidence to Support State Health Policymaking, featured three leaders from partnerships that are participating in AcademyHealth’s State-University Partnership Learning Network who provided examples of policy and data analyses they are conducting for their respective states; discussed how state policymakers have used their studies; highlighted issues related to data collection, linkage, and analytic methodologies; and offered insights into the challenges, opportunities, and overall value of participating in such partnerships. In her presentation titled State-University Partnerships: Generating Evidence to Support State Policymaking-the Maryland Experience, Woodcock discussed Hilltop’s work to support Maryland’s All Payer Model. Hilltop is conducting analytics, developing cost analysis methodologies, and developing and analyzing metrics and performance measures for Maryland’s State Innovation Model (SIM) Project, which is developing Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) for persons fully eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid (dual eligibles).

The Hilltop Institute’s Hospital Community Benefit Program has just released the June 2016 update of its online resource, the Community Benefit State Law Profiles, and has published a new issue brief in its Hospital Community Benefits after the ACA series.

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