Lack of Hospital Merger Regulations is Hurting Patients
By Admin | July 05, 2016
In order to survive, smaller hospitals sometimes merge with larger chains. This gives the small hospitals the ability to negotiate with insurance companies and share in cost savings while cutting overlapping services. However, when hospitals look out for their own interests, patient health can get put last.
Without state protection, health services across the country are disappearing, and local residents are running out of options.
An example of this problem comes from Arizona. In 2010, the Sierra Vista Regional Health Center entered a partnership with a Catholic system called the Carondelet Health Network. As a faith-based system, it limited patient access to birth control, tubal ligations, vasectomies, and end-of-life options for the elderly. Many residents of the Sierra Vista area who depended on these services discovered they were gone after the merger had already happened.
Dr. Bruce Silva, an OB-GYN based at the health center, remembers a particular incident of a woman being denied necessary care: she had miscarried one of her twins at 15 weeks of pregnancy and needed an emergency abortion.
Why are hospitals allowed to reduce their care? Many of the oversight laws were put in place in the 1960s and 1970s, when there was a fear of too many facilities and services. These old laws are now working against the current trend of consolidating, meaning fewer hospital systems and fewer services.
Read the entire article “Who Makes Sure Hospital Mergers Do No Harm? Almost Nobody” posted on Pro Publica.