STATE HOUSE, Providence – The Senate yesterday passed legislation sponsored by President of the Senate Dominick J. Ruggerio (D-Dist. 4, North Providence, Providence) that requires monitoring for hospital conversions involving non-profit acquirors, at the expense of the acquiror, and extends the monitoring following a conversion from 3 to 5 years.
The legislation, 2019-S-500A, also doubles penalties for failure to comply with the terms of the conversion from $1 million to $2 million. The bill was introduced on behalf of Attorney General Peter F. Neronha as a means to enhance the tools available to the Attorney General and Department of Health to monitor and enforce conditions imposed pursuant to a Hospital Conversion Act review.
“The passage of these amendments to the Hospital Conversion Act ensures that the Office of the Attorney General, as well as the Department of Health, have the legal and financial tools necessary to adequately monitor and enforce our conditions in future transactions,” said Attorney General Neronha. “I would like to thank Senate President Ruggiero for his strong advocacy and members of the Senate for working with my office to pass this legislation, which gives us the necessary strategic enforcement tools to protect the interests of all Rhode Islanders.”
From the Senate President’s perspective, the bill is also a response to the St. Joseph’s Health Service pension crisis, which left the fund insolvent when contributions to it ceased following the sale of Fatima Hospital and Roger Williams Hospital to Prospect Medical Holdings in 2014. The $85 million fund covered about 2,700 current and former employees of the two hospitals.
“This legislation will help prevent what happened with the St. Joseph’s Health Services pension plan from ever happening again in Rhode Island,” said President Ruggerio. “Extended monitoring will provide the necessary increased oversight, while stiffer penalties will work to ensure those who don’t comply with the law are held accountable.”
The bill builds upon legislation passed earlier this session, also sponsored by President Ruggerio, which would bring further transparency by requiring defined pension plans with at least two hundred members to comply with the federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act’s (ERISA) annual reporting provisions.
Last year, a law introduced by President Ruggerio helped members of the insolvent pension plan to reach settlements in their multiple class-action lawsuits by better positioning members to reach fair, equitable settlements with the multiple defendants of the lawsuits.
The bill has been transmitted to the House of Representatives for consideration.
For more information, contact:
Greg Pare, Press Secretary for the Senate
State House Room 314
Providence, RI 02903