Gov. Jack Markell’s recommendation to include nearly $3 million for additional improvements to the Delaware Health Information Network was questioned Monday by members of the state Legislature's Bond Bill Committee.


Gov. Jack Markell’s recommendation to include nearly $3 million for additional improvements to the Delaware Health Information Network was questioned Monday by members of the state Legislature's Bond Bill Committee.

The Bond Bill Committee met Monday at Legislative Hall to discuss the recommended 2012 fiscal year Bond Bill worth a total of $650.2 million.

“I’m completely perplexed that $30 million has been spent on this; now, we’re going to give you [more than] $2 million and wait until September to see if you really do develop financial sustainability,” Sen. David Sokola (D-Beech Hill) said. “It’s another one-time fund, but we should be getting some payback right now.

"That’s a lot of money based on assurances that we’ve heard to this point," he said. "We have an obligation to mature this investment.”

The $30 million investment heretofore in DHIN's infrastructure has been essentially a three-way split between the state, the federal government and private hospitals.

State Auditor R. Thomas Wagner Jr., a Republican, released a March 2010 report that found the Delaware Health Information Network (DHIN) lacked complete financial oversight to decision makers and stakeholders. State oversight was lacking as well, among other things. Markell, a Democrat, has since appointed new members to the Delaware Health Care Commission, the oversight agency of DHIN, and DHIN has a new executive director.

Sen. John J. Viola (D-Newark) asked if the commission could provide any numbers to back up its request for more money.

“We all like to see numbers,” Viola said. “Is there any way to validate [that]? It’s costing us $2 million, but it’s saving us $4 million?” he added, as an example.

Delaware Health Care Commission Chairwoman Bettina Riveros called that a reasonable request. Riveros is Markell’s policy adviser on health care.

“I think that’s something we could include in the plans we submit in September,” she said. “I agree completely.”

Revamping health care technology ensures that people receive the best care possible while also containing costs, Riveros said.

“We have to connect all the different providers – the hospitals, the providers – with an infrastructure,” she said. “This connects them and lets them all share information; it provides a network.”

The new system is allowing doctors to look up information on patients, including what doctors they see and what they’re being treated for, Riveros added.