"Hospital War" Article Creates Buzz

Physician leaders and organizations across the United States, including the Richmond Academy of Medicine are discussing the issues raised in the Julie Creswell/Reed Abelson November 30, 2012 article in the New York Times regarding hospital employment of large numbers of physicians in the Boise, Idaho market.  In this two health system market "many of the independent doctors complain that both hospitals, but especially St. Luke’s, have too much power over every aspect of the medical pipeline, dictating which tests and procedures to perform, how much to charge and which patients to admit."

"Dr. David C. Pate, chief executive of St. Luke’s, denied the assertions by St. Alphonsus (the smaller health system) that the hospital’s acquisitions had limited patient choice or always resulted in higher prices. In some cases, Dr. Pate said, services that had been underpriced were raised to reflect market value. St. Luke’s, he argued, is simply embracing the new model of health care, which he predicted would lead over the long term to lower overall costs as fewer unnecessary tests and procedures were performed."

To read the entire article which also describes legal and regulatory reviews of health systems that have paid bonuses for ordering lab tests, dramatically increasing fees (a 2009 Virginia case) and systems that have created monopoly scenarios please click here.