Hospital budget bill is foolish endeavor

April 2, 2024

Proposed legislation to establish the Diamond State Hospital Cost Review Board is the latest example of government gone wild in Delaware.

The bill would make five individuals appointed by the governor responsible for reviewing and approving hospitals’ annual operating budgets beginning in calendar year 2026. 

In other words, politically appointed bureaucrats would have absolute authority to tell hospitals how they can spend their money. But the panel would not bear one iota of responsibility for raising the money needed to help those hospitals serve Delawareans.

The concept of authority without responsibility is a growing menace, one that typically leads to simplistic and ultimately ineffective solutions to complex problems.

It is irresponsible for politicians to blame hospitals alone for rising healthcare costs. Politicians also mislead the public by suggesting that state control of hospitals’ budgets will rein in those costs.

Hospitals don’t exist in a vacuum, nor do they arbitrarily set prices. Hospital bills reflect many costs including labor, sophisticated equipment, pharmaceuticals, facilities, food, supplies and other commodities, all of which have skyrocketed under inflationary pressures.

Federal and state payments through the Medicare and Medicaid programs, along with private insurance, cover only a portion of those expenses, requiring hospitals to raise funds from private sources to close budget gaps. Has anyone in the General Assembly paused to consider how those generous donors might react to a state takeover of decision-making for community hospitals?

Delaware’s healthcare system, like the nation’s, is far from perfect. But it is foolish to believe that a tribunal of five political appointees will solve a problem whose root causes reach far beyond Delaware’s borders.

Peter A. Harrigan
Rehoboth Beach
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