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HOSPITALS: Gamesmanship to avert specialty hospital classification, By MATT QUINN

A new model of specialty hospital is emerging to cherry-pick the most profitable patients from community hospitals. A group of physicians and investors has proposed building a surgical hospital in Loma Linda, California, specializing in cardiovascular and orthopedic procedures, a move critics say is intended to “cherry-pick well-insured patients needing expensive procedures,” the Los Angeles Times reports. But – by including a one bed emergency room – the proposed hospital will not be officially classified as a specialty hospital.

While the California Healthcare Association and community hospitals in the area view the motives behind the new hospital as deleterious to hospitals that must serve a broader segment of patients and procedures and “not serving the community… there to serve a segment of the community that will make their investors wealthy,” the spokesman for the proposed hospital’s investors holds a different view:

“We are not trying to be rebels. We are trying something new. This can be a model for the whole country” (Martin, Los Angeles Times, 4/26).

I assume that the country that this model of hospital will serve is one in which patients only need expensive heart and sports medicine procedures…. and hardly anyone shows up at the ER. Or perhaps the model he is referring to is one that is designed to maximize physician compensation at the detriment of public health and community access to care. You decide.

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