President of the Senate Dominick J. Ruggerio today filed legislation (2021-S 0007) that would impose a one-year moratorium on hospital conversions involving for-profit corporations as the acquiree or acquiror.
“The questions swirling around the financial instability of Fatima and Roger Williams hospitals stem in no small part from their for-profit status,” noted President Ruggerio. “Public allegations have been made that the hospital network they are a part of has incurred over a billion dollars in debt, and that the owners have personally taken over $500 million in dividends. They are insolvent and headed for bankruptcy, according to allegations made in court filings.”
He continued, “We have seen the ripple effect that the closure of Memorial Hospital had on hospitals across the state. Hospital facilities and staff are stretched to their limit, and the pandemic has only exacerbated the strain. The strength of our overall statewide hospital network is critical to the wellbeing of Rhode Islanders. We need to conduct a comprehensive review of for-profit hospital entities and their impact on the financial condition of the hospitals they operate and the broader health care network in the state.”
President Ruggerio has asked Senator Louis P. DiPalma to convene the Senate Rules, Government Ethics & Oversight Committee, which he will chair, to review matters related to Fatima, for-profit hospitals and hospital conversions.
The Committee is expected to launch a series of hearings beginning Wednesday, January 20. Over the course of their hearings, they will review applications pending at Health Services Council for a transfer of control at Fatima and Roger Williams, the Hospital Conversion Act application pending through the Department of Health and Office of Attorney General, and the broader impact of this and other potential for-profit hospitals on the state’s overall hospital network.