Public hospitals being aborbed by private networks
by jerry on January 31, 2021
Kaiser Health News published a piece outlining how a public hospital in North Carolina might be sold off, and the article includes some context about how the hospital in question may represent a larger trend. The hospital, New Hanover Regional Medical Center, may be unusual in that it is profitable and has even reduced costs enough to earn a bonus payment from Medicare. Notably, the prospective buyer for the hospital did not earn a similar bonus. Nevertheless, leadership for the hospital wants to sell, supposedly to raise capital for the hospital to remain competitive in the marketplace.
The article notes that consolidation in hospital ownership tends to raise costs for the community, and people also believe that consolidation leads to lower quality. Hence, the sale of the functional hospital would likely hurt the community in the long run in some regards. It is possible that the county owners could use some cash now as they face challenges posed by the pandemic; hence county officials might see this as a solution to some urgent problems and the long-term effects might be far enough away to not worry about. Otherwise, it is unclear why local officials would want to help the prospective buyer further consolidate power within the healthcare market.