Bureaucracy: Privatization may be key for West Virginia hospitals

King Bureaucracy has crippled West Virginia for generations, but an awareness is growing of its harm to the state’s ability to truly serve its residents. The most recent example comes from the seven state-run hospitals studied by the Public Policy Foundation of West Virginia, which presented its recommendations this week.

Essentially, the heavily bureaucratic model used to run the facilities is killing them, and costing taxpayers money.

“The rule-driven, top-down control, compliance-based model that governs our state hospitals has proven to not only be ineffective and inefficient in a highly competitive health care market, but has created a situation in which state hospitals are underutilized,” according to the report.

Authors of the report suggested there is a “better, smarter” way to run these hospitals — and the private sector is best equipped to do that.

From an inflexible state salary structure that has proved unappealing to new hires, to the length of time required to hire new employees and even the amount of time it takes to make purchases, everything is more complicated and/or more costly than it should be.

Dr. Terry Wallace, senior scholar at the Public Policy Foundation, told another media outlet, “As we looked at and toured all seven of these hospitals, what we found were people who were committed to what they’re doing, who know how to do the right thing, but they’re very limited.”

In other words, our state bureaucracy is keeping them from being able to do what they know needs to be done for patients, and for taxpayers.

Wallace and his fellow authors recommend to lawmakers that they create a Hospital Facilities Authority to examine the possibility of privatizing these hospitals, perhaps in a manner similar to the successful privatization of the Mountain State’s workers’ compensation insurance system. Lawmakers should do so, and be prepared to make that transition.