Senate and House conferees were named Thursday to work out the details of the public hospital transparency bill, SB 2407.
The bill was originally authored by state Sen. Brice Wiggins in response to the ongoing troubles facing employees and retirees of Singing River Health System in Jackson County.
Wiggins’ bill unanimously passed the Senate in February.
When the bill reached the House it was stripped in Public Health committee and repurposed to apply only to SRHS, a move many saw as a result of the lobbying power of the Mississippi Hospital Association. It was eventually passed out of the committee for full House consideration.
On the House floor state Rep. Charles Busby offered an amendment which basically restored the bill as Wiggins had intended. It passed the House 110-7 and was sent back to the Senate to either concur or invite conference. The Senate invited conference.
House conferees were Representatives Sam Mims, Charles Busby, and John Read.
Senate conferees were Senators Nancy Collins, Brice Wiggins, and John Polk.
With only slight changes, the conferees have agreed and the conference report has been signed.
Of note, the reverse repealer has been removed and the effective date of the bill will be January 1, 2016.
Other than the obvious aim of ending the exemption of public hospitals from abiding by Open Meetings laws, the bill also allows trustees to be removed for cause by the appointing governing board, namely county supervisors.
The need for this provision was shown recently when Jackson County Supervisors sought the resignations of the hospital trustees they had appointed given the financially instability of SRHS. Those trustees defiantly refused to resign.