Roberts sees facilitating collaboration between hospitals, reforming payment systems as important starting point for working toward more efficient and higher quality care
PROVIDENCE—Lt. Gov. Elizabeth Roberts today received the final report of the Community Hospital Task Force, the group that was convened in late April by Governor Donald Carcieri and Roberts with the charge of examining the current financial health of community hospitals in Rhode Island and recommending reforms that can help ensure the continued delivery of core services to their communities.
Over three months of meetings, the task force determined that the state's community hospitals face difficult financial conditions, including significant structural challenges in the manner in which hospital services are reimbursed. The group concluded that there is not currently a statewide crisis but rather a situation that requires immediate work and system reform in order to avert an acute crisis. The task force recommended encouraging collaboration and eliminating barriers to hospital mergers as well as reforming payment systems. Roberts sees these suggested systemic changes as a call to action for averting an impending financial crisis in our community hospitals and called for the development of an action plan using the task force report as a starting point for making system changes that promote more efficient and higher quality care.
“Today, Rhode Island has a call to action to make the changes needed to avert a financial crisis for the hospital system in the state," Roberts said. "Thanks to the dedication and hard work of the members of the Community Hospital Task Force, we now have a clearer picture of the financial challenges facing Rhode Island's community hospitals and greater clarity about the causes of the hospitals' financial distress. Now is the time to review the recommended systemic changes and create a platform to build a more efficient system and assure the highest quality of care in the community hospitals across the state."
"These hospitals are essential in providing their communities with quality, accessible medical services," Roberts added. "This report highlights potential reforms to strengthen community hospitals and avoid future problems. It is a starting point for necessary, decisive action that will bolster Rhode Island’s community hospitals, strengthen the health of our citizens and solve problems in our health care system. Particularly in light of the potential for a major hospital system merger in Rhode Island, it is more important than ever to maintain our focus on ensuring access to high quality, affordable medical services through a statewide system of hospitals serving all of our communities. The recommendations in this report must remain central to the broader hospital discussion and merger review and should drive a comprehensive look at hospital services in the state."
In its charge, the Community Hospital Task Force was to make a preliminary report to both Gov. Carcieri and Lt. Gov. Roberts within three months of convening. The task force is comprised of co-chairs Secretary of Health and Human Services Jane Hayward and Director of Health Dr. David Gifford, as well as eighteen members from the government, health care, community care, insurance, consumer, business and legislative sectors of Rhode Island.