The Senate finance committee yesterday approved and sent to the full Senate a package of seven health care cost containment measures sponsored by Gov. Harry Hughes. But even the governor's aide on health issues conceded the legislation emerged from the committee only "80 percent intact."
As had been expected, the panel substantially amended several of the governor's bills, setting the stage for a difficult conference committee with the House, which made fewer substantive changes in the package.
The finance panel gutted two of the governor's proposals, one authorizing him to impose a moratorium on hospital construction and one guaranteeing that teaching and inner-city hospitals would not be excluded from health insurance plans that send beneficiaries to facilities that charge less.
In addition, the panel amended legislation implementing an immediate emergency moratorium until October on hospital construction by mandating six exceptions.
The committee also drastically rewrote legislation that in its original form would have required doctors to obtain state permission before purchasing expensive diagnostic equipment. Hospitals must already abide by that process. The Senate version now deregulates the purchase of equipment by both hospitals and doctors.
Like their House counterparts, the Senate committee members stripped the package of an overall revenue cap for the state's 59 hospitals.