Thursday, September 16, 2010

God’s Work

As six Catholic hospitals in Massachusetts are slated for sale to a private equity firm, another coalition of hospitals in the state is seeking government interference in the sale to ensure that low-income quality healthcare is accessible. 
Among the conditions being sought by the Healthcare Access Coalition are measures to prohibit the buyer, Cerberus Capital Management, from using “improper’’ incentives to recruit doctors from rival hospitals, a three-year ban on price increases for hospital services, and restrictions on “limited network’’ insurance contracts that exclude other providers.

What exactly constitutes improper is not discussed, but what does the government have to do with improper? Illegal? Yes. Improper? No way.

Why would a group of hospitals want to keep prices low at competing hospitals?  Clearly, they don’t want more of the lousy government insurance cast-offs that are causing all the bankruptcies!

Using popularly proper prattle, the rent seeking hospitals are asking the government to “level the playing field” because the new group may “become predatory” by using its market power to drive up healthcare costs. After all, the coalition has only society’s best interest at heart, as this is all done in the name of providing access to low-cost healthcare for all. If this were the real reason, however, the hospital coalition would seek to get government out of the health care industry rather than use its hammer to pound the competition.

In addition to state approval, the sale requires the approval of the Pope. Seriously. This fact could be used as an excellent metaphor if it weren’t true.

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