A large “not for profit” hospital system has built outpatient treatment facilities here in the Oklahoma City area consisting of emergency rooms with physician offices and certain diagnostic ancillaries attached.  These facilities are architectural works of art, looking like something displayed under glass at the Guggenheim.  One of these facilities was built in the back yard of another “not for profit” hospital system’s main hospital.  Sparks are flying.  Television ads are airing, paid for by the “victimized” hospital system, declaring these new faux ER’s as inadequate, without necessary physician coverage and basically calling them frauds. 

Let’s look at this closely.

One of the reasons we needed healthcare reform so badly was all of the uninsured folks showing up at the hospital emergency rooms and not paying their bills.

This was a giant financial hit for these big hospitals, not getting paid for all of this work.

The hospitals used this “potentially bankrupting” situation of emergency room visits by the uninsured to justify their shifting costs to all those who were paying their bills.  This is one of the rationales for the giant hospital bills anyone who goes there receives.

If the bold above were all true, wouldn’t the “victimized” hospital celebrate the appearance of the “newcomer” emergency facility?  Wouldn’t they actually encourage their emergency room patients to patronize the new emergency room?  Wouldn’t this cut their losses, improve their bottom line and allow them to soften or eliminate cost shifting practices, making them more competitive in the health marketplace? 

They should be celebrating, spreading the financial misery to the newcomer, appreciative of their smaller losses.  But then, it was all lies, wasn’t it?

G. Keith Smith, M.D.