Health committee clears bill to curb hospital trustee conflicts

Legislation sponsored by two Bergen County Senators to regulate conflicts of interest by hospital board members was approved today by the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee.  S-369 would require hospital trustees to adopt a policy requiring disclosure of perceived or actual conflicts and a prohibition on discussing contracts that might benefit them personally.

The bill, sponsored by State Sens. Loretta Weinberg (D-Teaneck) and Robert Gordon (D-Fair Lawn) would require hospitals to solicit a minimum of three bids or proposals on certain matters that might be perceived as a conflict for a board member.

 “I have been arguing the case for increased transparency in government for as long as I have been in the Legislature,” said Weinberg, the committee chair.  “However, the need for accountability and transparency reaches far beyond just State government. Through establishing ethics guidelines for hospital boards of trustees, this legislation would ensure that the members of these boards are working to enhance the health and quality of life of patients, and not to pad their pockets or pensions. ”

Gordon says the bill would implement the recommendations of the Commission on Rationalizing Healthcare, which was created to examine and make necessary recommendations to improve the quality and operations of the State’s hospital system.

“One of the major issues that concerned the Commission was a lack of transparency in State hospital operations and accountability.  By requiring these boards of trustees to follow ethics guidelines, we could ensure that hospitals are governed fairly, and that those who govern have the best interests of the hospital and patients as their top priorities,” Gordon said.

S0369 now goes to the full Senate.

Health committee clears bill to curb hospital trustee conflicts