Beebe seeks input on hospital bill

New website encourages public to weigh in
May 3, 2024

Beebe Healthcare is opposing a bill that would create a state board to oversee hospital budgets in an effort to bring down costs. The healthcare group is encouraging the community to take action.

Substitute 2 for House Bill 350 is scheduled for action in Senate Executive Committee Tuesday, May 7, and Beebe Healthcare President and CEO Dr. David Tam said he plans to be there.

“Beebe’s position is that the bill in its current form is a struggle for Beebe Healthcare,” he said.

Tam said he is optimistic he will get a chance to share Beebe’s opinion that the bill, which also sets benchmark spending limits for hospitals, would have a detrimental effect on services.

“We completely agree that we should work together to reduce healthcare costs,” Tam said. “But value – access and quality – are components of that equation. You don’t just want to get the lowest possible cost of care; you want to get something that is lower cost but also creates quality and value and access for everyone.”

Ultimately, Tam said he would like the chance to work with legislators to draft an amended bill. So far, that has not been the case. Tam said he first heard about the bill March 8. About three weeks later, he was given two minutes to speak on the bill before he was cut off during the bill’s House committee hearing. 

“That wasn’t a lot of time to think about how we can work together,” he said.

In addition to placing spending limits that Tam estimates would cost the hospital more than $60 million over two years, the bill creates a Diamond State Hospital Cost Review Board to annually review hospital budgets and related financial information. The sponsor of the bill, Speaker of the House Rep. Valerie Longhurst, D-Bear, said hospital costs make up the bulk of healthcare expenses paid by the state, and costs continue to rise. She said the increases are unsustainable. The bill passed the House April 25 by a 21-16 vote with four absent.

“It’s not about no, no, no; it’s more like I don’t like it the way it is, but let’s talk together, and I commit to a constructive dialogue to potentially make the bill something that helps the people, at least in Sussex County,” Tam said.

Tam said he has learned a lot about the process since first hearing about it, and he remains committed to working for a solution.

“At the end of the day, healthcare and politics are local,” he said.

New website

The Lewes-based healthcare system has created a website to stop HB 350 with a short video message by Tam, and a list of senators and Sussex County legislators who will be considering the bill in the Senate.

Critics have said the bill presents a potential state takeover of a private business’ budgeting process. Following the House vote, House Minority Leader Rep. Danny Short, R-Seaford, pointed out that the state creates spending benchmarks every year, which are exceeded. Legislators regularly pass budgets greater than what the Delaware Economic and Financial Advisory Council has recommended, he said, and he questioned how the state can hold hospitals accountable for what the state ignores.

In the newly released video, Tam says passage of the bill would have a negative impact on Beebe Healthcare – a smaller healthcare system facing community growth.

“With HB 350 in its current form, we will be hurt,” he said in the video.

The website is available at


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