Public hospital sales to face more scrutiny

Hospital merger deals in Florida will be subject to increased oversight, as Gov. Rick Scott on Friday signed a bill that requires the state's Agency for Health Care Administration to review potential sales or leases of public hospitals, reported the Daytona Beach News-Journal.

A failed merger deal between Adventist Health System and Bert Fish Medical Center sparked the bill, H.B. 711, when Bert Fish's board held 21 meetings behind closed doors over 16 months to discuss the deal, in violation of Florida's open-meetings law, the article noted.

The state Sunshine Law requires public disclosure of how tax dollars are spent, meaning the meetings should have been open to the public. The Bert Fish Foundation filed a lawsuit in August 2010 against Adventist Health System and successfully challenged the merger.

The new measure also requires hospital governing boards to start formal evaluations of the benefits of selling or leasing their facilities--though they are not required to pursue sales or leases--by the end of 2012, according to the Daytona Beach News-Journal.

For more information:
- read the Daytona Beach News-Journal article
- check out the bill (.pdf)

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