The legislature’s joint Labor and Health Committee praised state health officials for their quick response when two nursing homes threatened to close last month.
The state took over the facilities in Rock Springs and Saratoga after the company that owned them said it was suddenly closing them. Senator Bernadine Craft of Rock Springs said Monday that it was a terrifying time in her community.
State Health Director Tom Forslund noted that the state was criticized by some for getting involved with a private business. He said that leads to policy questions for the future.
“Again what is the role of state government? Is it to keep these facilities open? I mean these were private companies, privately owned operations and it failed. Is it the role of state government to problem up and keep facilities open?”
Senator Charles Scott said the department did the right thing since the safety of people was at stake. He told the committee that he is worried that the state will face a similar problem with a hospital. He said the state needs a fund to address these issues.
Other legislators would like to see if there are ways the state can better monitor the finances of health care providers, but Forslund said that would require additional auditors.
The committee was also told that Deseret Health Services only recently faced financial difficulty.