House bill would change hospital regulation

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(Host) The House has given its strong approval to legislation that makes major changes in the way the state regulates hospitals.

The legislation establishes a statewide plan for all health care spending and it calls on hospitals to provide consumers with additional information about the exact cost of different medical procedures. The bill also increases the threshold for state review of hospital expansion projects so that smaller projects will get less review and larger projects will be subject to greater examination.

While the recent controversy at Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington encouraged lawmakers to focus of this issue, sponsors of the bill say their proposal is designed to deal with many other concerns. Representative Anne Donahue (R-Northfield) says she hopes the plan will help slow down the growth rate of health care spending in Vermont:

(Donahue) “As we all are aware, our health insurance rates have been in double digit increases for the past three years. The focus is not to attempt the impossible and say that we will reduce [spending], but rather that we will stop that rate of increase and begin the process of seriously addressing containment of costs.”

(Host) By a five-to-one margin, the House rejected an amendment that would require all hospitals to add community and legislative members to their board of directors. The measure now goes to the Senate for its consideration.

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