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Politician-controlled hospitals will lose millions; cuts in services and care looming


The following Op-Ed by Brian Frazee can be found in the following publications:


Politician-controlled hospitals will lose millions; cuts in services and care looming

April 30, 2024

Legislation moving its way through the Delaware General Assembly (House Bill 350) to put paid political appointees in control of our state’s nonprofit hospitals is not what the doctor ordered.

This proposal will immediately slash $360 million from our adult acute-care hospitals, and the politician-controlled oversight board it creates can make even more cuts. The reduction is due to an arbitrary 250% Medicare cap on commercial reimbursement provision contained in the bill.

What does that actually mean?

It means that there would be an immediate $360 million cut that will slash hospital services, up to 4,000 hospital jobs, specialty care, quality and community programs. It will halt expansion of services, which also impacts construction jobs and other trades that are critical to enhancing our health care infrastructure and access.

Limiting hospital resources to recruit and retain top doctors and nurses will risk health care quality and access in the First State. This also will exacerbate the health care provider shortage in Delaware, at a time when our aging population demands more, not fewer, of those providers. As the state with the fifth-oldest population in the country, Delaware will be plunged into a health care crisis.

Those cost caps in the bill also put at risk the recent historic collaboration between Delaware hospitals and policymakers, which would allow Delaware’s Medicaid program to receive more than $100 million in federal monies by establishing a new state provider assessment.

The funding is meant to bolster efforts at improving access, workforce recruitment and retention, behavioral health services and health equity. The 250% of Medicare cap proposed in HB 350 would lower the average commercial rate paid to hospitals far too much to make the contemplated model work.

Clearly, the provider assessment negotiations show that hospitals know how to work collaboratively with policymakers for the good health of Delawareans.

Any serious plan to maintain patient quality and access to health care, while containing inflationary costs, requires insurers, government, practitioners and labor, as well as medical device and pharmaceutical companies, to work together on collaborative solutions.

Being on the front line of delivering public health, the member hospitals and health systems that the Delaware Healthcare Association represents respect our obligation to be central to health care solutions for the public. With that in mind, we came to the table with meaningful alternatives that address health care affordability, enhance transparency and establish a collaborative effort to identify real solutions to our shared concerns.

Unfortunately, we simply did not have adequate time to engage in a meaningful stakeholder process on a massive health care policy.

Every resident of Delaware should be as shocked as we are that legislative leaders are instead continuing to risk public health by pushing the badly flawed health care control provisions in HB 350. If Delaware is willing to put paid political appointees in charge of the oversight of the state’s largest private-sector employer, what industry is next?

This is not what the doctor ordered. There is a better way, and we stand ready to work together to address our shared concerns and put Delawareans first.

Brian Frazee is the president and CEO of the Delaware Healthcare Association, which represents the First State’s hospitals, health systems and health care-related organizations.

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