It looks as if the Oklahoma legislature has provided the dowry to the Oklahoma State University osteopathic hospital that Mercy Hospital Oklahoma City was looking for.  The state budget provides for $18.5 million to bail out this hospital, interestingly, $250,000 more than they said they needed.  

Mercy, Oklahoma City was looking at an arrangement to “partner” with the Tulsa osteopathic hospital (no giant Tulsa hospital wanted anything to do with them, even with a dowry/bailout), but was waiting to see if they received this taxpayer gift.  

If anyone knows how to make money at a not for profit hospital, it is Mercy.  Of all the hospitals in the country, TIME magazine singled them out as price abusers.  I predict that the bills from the osteopathic hospital will soon reach the level of the bills at their mothership in Oklahoma City.  I also predict that the other Tulsa hospitals will raise their prices, knowing that all they really need to do is stay just below the new bankrupting standard across town.  

As the free market movement in health care gathers steam in Oklahoma, I also predict that these medical corporatists will find that they have miscalculated.  If patients are willing to travel to Oklahoma City from Mendocino, California, Charleston, South Carolina and Montreal, to mention just a few of our sources of referrals, patients from Tulsa will certainly drive to Oklahoma City to avoid medical bankruptcy.

Mercy got their wish then.  They married the Tulsa hospital bride with an extra $18.5 million in her purse.  Maybe they will use the extra $250,000 they hadn’t counted on receiving for a party, and invite taxpayers from all over the state and from whom this loot was extracted.

G. Keith Smith, M.D.