Hospital Board bill on way to Carney, who’s got a pen ready

Betsy PriceHeadlines, Government


Gov. John Carney says he looks forward to signing House Bill 350 and creating the Diamond State Hospital Cost Review Board. Photo by Pixabay/Pexels.

The bill that will create a state board to oversee Delaware hospital budgets and order changes is finally on its way to Gov. John Carney to sign.

He popped a statement out within moments of the House passing a Senate amendment to the bill, now styled as HS 2 for HB 350 w/ HA 1 + SA 1, 

“Rising health care costs are having a significant impact on Delaware families and state taxpayers,” Carney said. “House Bill 350 will help lower the growth of healthcare costs in our state, while making sure we’re protecting health care quality and access … I look forward to signing it into law.”

The bill will create the Diamond State Hospital Cost Review Board, which is expected to take about two years to get organized. It will include seven members, six appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Delaware Senate, and the executive director of the Delaware HealthCare Association, a hospital trade group.

The executive director will not be paid, but the other board members will be paid $35,000 a year, with the chair being paid $40,000 annually.

The bill’s passage came after about an hour of questions by Republicans focusing on different aspects of the bill. In contrast to the cantankerous April 25 session in which Democrats moved to silence Republicans after several hours of questions, Tuesday’s discussion was downright gentile.

Just before the vote, House Majority Leader Mike Ramone, R-Newark/Pike Creek, even thanked Speaker Valerie Longhurst, D-Bear, for allowing the GOP members to ask all their questions.

Hospital bill process

Republicans have vehemently opposed the bill saying the state doesn’t need to get involved in private businesses.

Tuesday afternoon, Republicans questioned various points in the bill, including whether one sentence was actually amending the state Constitution. and therefore the bill should require a vote of 2/3s of the House to be passed. Nope, they were told.

Republicans questioned the process of the board if it asked for a change or a hospital didn’t meet the guidelines, which involve creating a budget that is at or below the state benchmark, which is based on Delaware’s gross domestic product. 

They were told by House Attorney Karen Lance that the board could not unilaterally alter a budget.

The board had to give a hospital at least three chances over three years to comply, and if the hospital does not, then the board could demand changes. Even then, she said, a hospital would have the right to appeal to the state Supreme Court, she said.

RELATED STORY: Hospitals, legislators reach deal on state review board

RELATED STORY: Hospital bills passes Senate along party lines

“So there’s a laugh before the state board gets involved in making a decision that would say any type of overriding of a budget decision,” Lance said.

Longhurst issued a statement after the House session ended calling her bill “landmark legislation that will impact Delawareans in every corner of our state” and repeating her belief that Delawareans have been burdened with some of the highest healthcare costs in the nation for too long.

“These costs not only limit residents’ ability to access necessary care but also strain family budgets, leaving less money for essentials like groceries and housing,” she said.

The bill will get healthcare prices under control while bringing transparency to hospital pricing,” she said.

A lot of that won’t be transparent to residents, though. Much of what the hospitals will give the board will be shrouded from public view under the state’s Freedom of Information rules.


Share this Post