HOSPITALS: Mercury News Weighs In
In a three-part editorial series this week, the San Jose Mercury News takes a look at the future of hospital care in Alameda and Santa Clara counties in particular and California in general.
- "Hospitals Need Care Themselves": Sunday's piece examines "the pressures that are forcing hospitals to change," namely the fluctuating need for in-patient beds, lowered Medi-Cal, Medicare and insurance reimbursements and the costs of meeting seismic retrofitting requirements. But as hospitals move to "put the brakes on the high costs/low reimbursement spiral by consolidating, merging and generally slimming down inpatient services," hospital admissions have suddenly spiked. The piece concludes by asking whether hospitals should have the last word in these complicated decisions (3/14).
- "The Unheard Community Voice": Monday's editorial takes a look at the issues surrounding the Alexian/Columbia swap where "San Jose lost the Alexian Brothers, members of a centuries-old Catholic order that had provided charitable care" for over 30 years, in return for Columbia, "a nationwide chain with a reputation as a predatory business that snaps up hospitals," cuts staff and services and stands "accused of Medicare fraud in several states." The decision, which the editorial argues affects "essential health care for thousands of people," was "made with no opportunity for community involvement" (3/15).
- "Public Interest Prescription": Yesterday's editorial offers a few suggestions "to soften the blow of hospital closures and mergers." State law should be changed so that all nonprofit conversions include charitable trusts to reimburse communities, regulators should "perform more in-depth reviews of hospital mergers" and hospitals should be "required to share the burden of indigent care," the editorial contends. Quoting the Hospital Council of Northern and Central California's Melissa Stafford Jones who said, "Finding solutions has to involve the government, taxpayers, patients, physicians, hospitals," the editorial concludes that it couldn't agree more with Jones' opinion that the issue should not be "hospitals vs. communities" but "how hospitals can serve their communities" (3/16).