Prince George's County Executive Lawrence Hogan has decided to propose that the county's three hospitals be turned over to an independent governing board or a nonprofit corporation instead of being owned and operated by the county government.

Throughout his tenure as county executive, Hogan has maintained that the three hospitals -- Prince George's General in Cheverly, Greater Laurel-Beltsville Hospital and the walk-in Bowie Health Center -- are poorly managed and cost too much. Prince George's is the only Maryland county that operates its own hospital system.

Hogan's proposals, which he will elaborate on at a press conference Tuesday, would result in the hospitals being operated like a public utility, with some direction from the county but financial autonomy.

Hogan's proposal to turn over the hospitals to either an independent board or a nonprofit corporation will require the approval of the state legislature and the County Council, Hogan aides said. Legislation was introduced last week in the Maryland Senate that would grant the county the authority to set up an independent hospital board.

Hogan's proposals, which he will elaborate on at a press conference Tuesday, would result in the hospitals being operated like a public utility, with some direction from the county but financial automony.

The financial drain on the county from the hospitals -- which require a $5.8 million subsidy each year -- was the driving force behind Hogan's desire to remove the hospitals from the county's jurisdiction, aides confirmed. d

Hogan could not be reached for comment yesterday. Last summer, however, he said that "Prince George's has not done a good job (financially) managing the hospitals. We don't have the resources to provide the best kind of care any more."

"Now," one Hogan aide said yesterday, "the county is in the position of paying for all sorts of costs, telephone bills, debt service (the mortgage on the hospitals). If the hospitals were independent, they would be forced to pay the bills."

Hogan aides said that if the hospitals were turned over to a board or nonprofit corporation, the county would still remain responsible for subsidizing indigent care, including medical services for the poor, elderly, handicapped and prisoners. They added that the government would also consider signing agreements with private hospitals in the county to operate some of the indigent care programs for the county.

Hoganhs action on the hospitals came after an advisory commission on hospital management appointed by the executive spent nearly three months analyzing the various options for health care and last week suggested to Hogan an independent, nonprofit arrangement.

County Council members yesterday had not seen Hogan's proposal or the advisory commission recommendations. Council vice chairman Ann Lombardi said: "I don't think there's any question that the (county-owned system) was due for renovation. If handled carefully, an independent hospital authority or board could be a very good idea."