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New health care benchmark subcommittee concerns some DEFAC members

Delaware Public Media

Some members of the Delaware Economic and Financial Advisory Council (DEFAC) are nervous about their new role limiting the growth of healthcare spending.

Gov. John Carney’s health care benchmark executive order put that job in DEFAC’s hands, but some of its members are balking at being responsible for capping the growth of health care spending.

One member, Bob Byrd, says DEFAC’s primary job is to forecast the state’s revenues.

“We’ve got a lot of credibility among the legislature and everybody else and I think we need to be very careful that that’s where our focus remains and we don’t get bogged down in the healthcare debate,” he said.

Gov. John Carney’s executive order creates a DEFAC subcommittee to make adjustments to the state’s new healthcare benchmark and later recommend changes to how it’s calculated.

But some DEFAC members are expressing concern that they’ll be asked to call balls and strikes on healthcare spending, putting them in the position of having to criticize providers. DEFAC members also voiced concern about having sufficient knowledge to determine what a sustainable level of healthcare growth would be and applying national data to Delaware.

Finance Secretary Rick Geisenberger said those fears are unfounded.

“It’s an economics exercise," he said. "It’s looking at the measure of potential gross state product. DEFAC is uniquely qualified with its focus on economics to come up with number.”

Geisenberger adds it’s ideal for DEFAC to set the benchmark because most other agencies that handle healthcare issues face a conflict because they deal with providers.

But at least one member of DEFAC suggested Carney should reconsider his executive order.

The benchmark for 2019 is 3.8 percent.

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