By Richard Asinof
PROVIDENCE – The Rhode Island Business Group on Health is calling upon the R.I. General Assembly to form a binding commission to address excess hospital bed capacity in the state, the group announced on May 1.
The move follows the final report by the statewide Health Care Planning and Accountability Council that was sent to the R.I. General Assembly on April 30, according to RIBGH, a member of the council.
The mission of the council, according to R.I. Health Insurance Commissioner Christopher F. Koller, who co-chairs the council, was to generate “some meaningful findings about the future demand for hospital services.” The council was created by the legislature, Koller continued, to develop this information in reference to changes in the Hospital Conversions Act and the statewide Certificate of Need program.
Koller said the report’s findings are “facts and conclusions,” not recommendations.
One of the findings was that in five years, there may be an excess of 200 hospital beds in the state, according to Koller. “What’s going to happen depends on policy makers.”
In its request, the RIBGH said it was an urgent matter for the legislature to the address the fact that the state’s health care delivery system faces an excess of about 200 hospital beds, with an estimated cost of more than $100 million.
“Rhode Island's employers are already bearing an undue burden in escalating health care costs, with serious implications on their ability to grow and thrive in this challenging economy,” RIBGH’s statement said.
The group recommended that that state create a binding commission under statutory authority to “right size and reconfigure health care facilities in Rhode Island,” including the possible consolidation, closure, conversion and restructuring of hospitals in the state.