Placerville Surgeons May Open Outpatient Surgery Center; Plan Could Threaten Marshall Hospital
Several doctors at Marshall Hospital in Placerville have begun "talking seriously" about a proposal to open an outpatient surgery center, a plan that the hospital considers a "rebellious threat to its revenue," the Sacramento Business Journal reports. The surgeons have moved into the "discussion stage" with Pacific Coast Surgery Centers, a company that opened an outpatient surgery center last week in Folsom and plans to open a second facility later this year in Roseville. According to the Journal, the proposed outpatient surgery center, which would "take away" one of Marshall's "last profitable business segments," may "erode" the hospital's "ability to subsidize other essential but money-losing services, jeopardize bottom lines" and force the hospital to "scale back on care." Marshall plans to "do everything it can" to block the proposed outpatient surgery center. Other hospitals in the state have filed lawsuits and made arrangements with health plans to stop similar proposals. Frank Nachtman, Marshall's administrator, said that the hospital would lose $2 million to $3 million per year as a result of the proposed outpatient surgery center, a figure that "could send Marshall into the red," the Journal reports. "This is the ultimate fear that every nonprofit community hospital has," Nachtman said, adding, "That's the fundamental reason why health care should not be free market" (Robertson, Sacramento Business Journal, 1/18).
A Sacramento Bee editorial warns that patients should "begin to worry" about proposed outpatient surgery centers in the state, which "reflect how the power pendulum is swinging ... in the direction of certain medical specialists who are either short in supply or who perform money-making procedures." According to the editorial, the "dominance" of surgeons in the state health care system may "threaten the entire system's stability." The editorial points out that surgeons, by "controlling" outpatient surgery centers -- the "profit centers" of the health care industry -- can "better control the market, and its rewards." However, the editorial adds that they would "take a major portion of business away" from hospitals that "currently rank high" for "having good patient outcomes for cardiac procedures" (Sacramento Bee, 1/23).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.