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Weinberg/Gordon Measure Would Require Hospitals To Adopt Conflicts Of Interest Policy

TRENTON – A measure sponsored by Senators Loretta Weinberg and Bob Gordon which would require hospital boards of trustees to adopt a policy regulating conflicts of interest on the part of board members was approved today by the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee.

“I have been arguing the case for increased transparency in government for as long as I have been in the Legislature,” said Senator Weinberg, D-Bergen. “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. ”

“This bill would put into practice 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,” said Senator Gordon, D-Bergen. “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.”

Under the Senators’ bill, S-369, hospitals to would be required adopt a conflicts of interest policy, which would then be posted on their website. The policy would include language requiring disclosure of any perceived or actual conflicts of interest by members, as well as a prohibition on members voting on or discussing any contracts from which they would directly benefit.

The bill would also require hospitals to solicit a minimum of three bids or proposals, when dealing with any contract of $25,000 or more, when the contract concerns an issue that would be perceived as a conflict of interest for any member.

This measure now heads to the full Senate for approval.