News & Bulletins Archive

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.

View the slides.
View the webinar.

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.

Read the News Alert. 

The Hilltop Institute is pleased to announce the success of its 7th invitational symposium, Taking Hospital Community Benefit Policy to the Next Level: Advancing Community Health, which convened on June 15, 2016.

The symposium brought together over 120 policymakers, researchers, and other key stakeholders from around the country to examine these opportunities, reflect on the challenges, and provoke innovative thinking on advancing community health through hospital community benefit policy.

Read the Bulletin.
Go directly to the symposium page.

Hilltop staff made several presentations at the 2016 AcademyHealth Annual Research Meeting (ARM) in Boston. Senior Policy Analyst Charles Betley, MA, delivered a podium presentation, State and Federal Income Support Programs and Effects on Dual Eligible Health Care Use and Cost, at the State Health Research and Policy Interest Group Meeting (June 25). At the main meeting (June 26), Senior Policy Analyst Shamis Mohamoud, MA, gave a podium presentation, Evaluation of the Maryland Medicaid Chronic Health Homes Program. In addition, Hilltop staff presented posters at both the interest group and main meeting. Executive Director Cynthia H. Woodcock, MBA, presented a poster for Director of Special Studies Ian Stockwell, PhD: Maryland Full-Benefit Dual-Eligible Beneficiaries’ Use of Medicare and Medicaid Services Preceding and Following a Medicare Inpatient Stay (June 25 and 26). Senior Policy Analyst Alexis Smirnow, MPH, presented a poster titled Development and Evaluation of a Provider Directory Verification Survey for Maryland Medicaid (June 25 and 27). Policy Analyst Jamie John, MPH, presented a poster titled ACA Medicaid Expansion and Diabetes: A Comparison of Emergency Department and Inpatient Use among Expansion and Non-Expansion Enrollees with Diabetes (June 27).Finally, Director of Special Research Studies Michael T. Abrams, MPH, displayed a poster titled The Prevalence of Opioid Use Disorders in Baltimore City (June 27). To view the presentations, click on the titles.

The Hilltop Institute has published a chart book and three reports on the demographics, service utilization, and expenditures of Maryland’s dual-eligible population. The analyses focus on Medicare beneficiaries in Maryland who also receive full Medicaid benefits. The findings provide an overview of how this population accesses health care services, the types of services used, and where the services are provided.

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Hilltop staff participated in two sessions at the 6th Annual Green and Healthy Homes Initiative (GHHI) Executive Leadership Institute held December 7 through 9 in Baltimore, MD.

Director of the Hilltop Hospital Community Benefit Program, Gayle D. Nelson, JD, MPH, gave a presentation on a panel titled Making the Case to Healthcare, which addressed options for obtaining sustainable funding sources for healthy housing projects. In her presentation, titled Aligning Hospital Community Benefit, Community Health, and Healthy Housing, Nelson explained that federally tax-exempt hospitals are required to provide benefits to their communities in exchange for tax exemption; and outlined approaches, detailed in IRS regulations, that organizations can use to present their cases to hospitals. View the slides.

Senior Research Analyst Michael T. Abrams, MPH, participated in an interactive session titled Data Collection and Evaluation: Cost Benefit Analysis for GHHI Interventions. The session outlined—for GHHI leadership and partners—strategies and specific methods used to evaluate and monitor an intervention. Abrams described a HUD-funded project in Baltimore City that aims to assess the impact of GHHI’s in-home asthma-abatement intervention on health care utilization, heating/cooling energy use, and work/school attendance.

On Friday, December 4, Hilltop Senior Research Analyst and UMBC Public Policy PhD candidate Michael T. Abrams, MPH, gave the 2015 Judith A. Shinogle Memorial Fellowship lecture at UMBC. Abrams discussed the research projects—spearheaded by Shinogle before her tragic death in 2012—that he and UMBC researchers are conducting to inform policy decisions about health care and treatment for adults with serious mental illness, and children with asthma. He also discussed his dissertation research, which focuses on the impact of news coverage on the dissemination of prescription drug warnings issued by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Colleagues from Hilltop and UMBC’s School of Public Policy, faculty mentors, research partners, friends, and family members joined Abrams to celebrate his achievement. The award was established by Shinogle’s family in her memory to provide encouragement for doctoral students committed to health policy research. Abrams was selected by a faculty committee in recognition of his outstanding scholarship and research in health policy. At Hilltop, Abrams conducts quantitative and qualitative policy and health services research related to the brain and the behavioral health of Medicaid and other low-income populations.

Watch Abrams’ presentation.

View the slides.