Delaware Faces Backlash Over Deep Hospital Budget Cuts

Under HB 350, Delaware hospitals stand to lose millions of dollars. Opponents of the legislation worry about impacts to patient care.

Spending Bill Could Have Unintended Consequences

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The bill aims to reduce unnecessary spending, but will have a severe practical impact on healthcare in the state.

Politician-Run Review Board

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Creating an entity called the Diamond State Hospital Review Board, the act places state-appointed officials on a board responsible for approving hospital budgets every year.

Delaware Healthcare Association Speaks Out

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The Delaware Healthcare Association previously released a statement announcing its position on the bill. At that time, the DHA made it clear that its stance is in opposition to HB 350.

DHA’s Updated Stance

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But this week, after changes to the bill were made in the legislature, the DHA has announced that it now “stands neutral on HB 350 and will no longer actively oppose the bill at this time.”

DHA “Remains Deeply Concerned” About HB 350

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The improvements were not sufficient to garner the outward support of the DHA, which said in its most recent statement that it “remains deeply concerned about the remaining provisions in HB 350.”

Changes to the Bill

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However, the revisions were enough to convince the DHA to back down from its initial outspoken opposition. HB 350 was updated to change the original pricing provision described which would have instantly cut nearly $400 million from the hospitals in the state.

Original Fears Calmed After Amendments

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The DHA has said that they are backing down from a fight against the bill because the changes made will prevent the negative impact it feared from the original verbiage.

“Politically-Appointed Oversight Board” Draws Criticism

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However, its largest concern now is the fact that HB 350 will organize a “politically-appointed oversight board” that may have control over the budgets set by Delaware hospitals.

Healthcare Professionals Weigh In

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This particular provision has caused serious fears among healthcare professionals in Delaware. Ric Cuming, Ed.D., MSN, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN, explained his concerns, emphasizing the control that the “politician-run board” would have over hospital revenue.

40-Year RN Explains Problems with HB 350

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The bill “says if hospitals earn more than the politician-run board allows, the state can take the extra revenue,” Cuming, a Delaware RN for over forty years, wrote.

Additional Funds Used to “Invest in Our Communities”

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“That money today is what Delaware’s nonprofit hospitals use to invest in our communities, including new services and technologies to meet the growing demands for care,” Cuming continued.

“The Future of Healthcare in Delaware Starts to Look Extremely Bleak”

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“If the state cuts off that ability to invest, the future of healthcare in Delaware starts to look extremely bleak.”

Physician Shares Concerns

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Another health expert in Delaware, LeRoi S. Hicks, M.D., MPH, FACP, shared similar worries. Hicks focused his attention on “Delaware’s most vulnerable populations, including Black people, Hispanic people, and other groups that have been traditionally underserved in healthcare.”

“Horrific Consequences”

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Hicks wrote that HB 350 would have “horrific consequences” for those groups as a result of putting politicians in charge of hospital budgets.

Residents Fear Healthcare Accessibility Impacts

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Delaware residents worry that HB 350 would put the government at the source of critical healthcare decisions. For a small percentage of the state’s population who are there on orders from the U.S. Air Force, government involvement in their healthcare matters is nothing new.

Health Groups Send Joint Letter

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But for the rest of the state, the notion is unfathomable. Joining forces in opposition of the bill, several healthcare groups penned a letter to state their position.

A Unified Message

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All of the major healthcare systems in Delaware signed the letter, as well as several local groups and organizations. In the joint statement, the entities advocated for a collaborative approach to a better solution.

“This Bill Will Have Disastrous Ramifications”

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“This bill will have disastrous ramifications on not just the hospital systems but on the business and nonprofit communities,” the groups wrote in their letter. “It is our hope that we can bring all parties together…to determine a strong path forward for our state. That is the Delaware way.”

Bill Passes 14-7

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Despite widespread opposition, the amended bill was passed by the Delaware Senate in a fourteen to seven vote. It will take immediate effect.

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The post Delaware Faces Backlash Over Deep Hospital Budget Cuts first appeared on Liberty & Wealth.

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The content of this article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute or replace professional financial advice.

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