Group of Doctors, Investors Propose Construction of Surgical Hospital in Loma Linda
A group of physicians and investors has proposed building a surgical hospital in Loma Linda specializing in cardiovascular and orthopedic procedures, a move critics say is intended to "cherry-pick well-insured patients needing expensive procedures," the Los Angeles Times reports. The hospital would be located on a 66,000-square-foot vacant lot between Loma Linda University Medical Center and Redlands Community Hospital. Jim Holmes, president of Redlands, said he was concerned that the new hospital would leave other facilities to treat low-income and indigent patients. Jan Emerson, spokesperson for the California Healthcare Association, said, "They are not serving the community. They are there to serve a segment of the community that will make their investors wealthy." William Arsenault, spokesperson for the hospital's investors, said he did not expect neighboring hospitals "to be welcoming us with open arms," but he added that other local hospitals should not worry about the increased competition because the region's population is growing enough to support all the facilities.
Arsenault said that the hospital also would include a one-bed emergency department and would employ 36 physicians who specialize in areas such as thoracic treatment and ear, nose and throat conditions. Mickey Forrest of the Hospital Association of Southern California said that the ED was included in facility plans to prevent it from being classified as a specialty hospital. The new Medicare law includes an 18-month moratorium on Medicare reimbursements to new specialty hospitals that are wholly or partly owned by physicians. Unless the moratorium was extended, it would not apply to the proposed facility because the hospital is not scheduled to open until late 2005, according to the Times. Currently, the moratorium is set to expire in June 2005. Allen Gustafson, an orthopedic surgeon who is leading the venture, said, "We are not trying to be rebels. We are trying something new. This can be a model for the whole country" (Martin, Los Angeles Times, 4/26).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.