Maryland Considering Incentives for Work in ‘Health Enterprise Zones’
The idea of offering financial incentives to boost services in select areas is common for economic development -- but rarely used to improve health care.
Maryland has more primary care providers per person than nearly every other state, yet it ranks in the bottom third for geographic health disparities. In Baltimore, for instance, people living in wealthy, primarily white neighborhoods live 20 years longer than those living in low-income, mostly minority areas, reports the Baltimore Sun. In response, Gov. Martin O' Malley has proposed $4 million in funding for the creation of Health Enterprise Zones (HEZs) where care providers would be offered financial incentives for bringing more services to underserved communities. Eligible local health agencies and community-based organizations could receive loan assistance, tax credits, or state funding to implement electronic health records. If approved by the state legislature, the program would begin as a pilot in two to three areas but could expand statewide in a couple of years, Lt. Gov. Anthony H. Brown told the Sun.