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HOSPITALS: Hospitals on the verge of a nervous breakdown

Sorry, so the title is another bad attempt to be imitate an old Spanish movie but the problem is real enough. If the formula is, increase the number of jobs available without insurance, add more people moving into a county without regular  access to physicians, reduce the number of community clinics, and limit the amount of services at county hospitals, then the result will be more and more people showing up in the ER at other local hospitals. And of course if this is in LA County, all those problems are going to be magnified. The study claims that at "40 private hospitals reporting jumps in
emergency room visits by the uninsured, the cost of caring for them
rose from $63 million in 2000 to $77.5 million in 2004."
So amazingly enough, the health care system for the people at the bottom appears to be connected to the one for the rest of us? Who’d have thought it, in this day and age when there are no social problems, no issues with inequality, and we’re all happy in Arnie’s golden state?

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Paul M. MartinJohngadflytony Recent comment authors
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John
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John

I know this is a healthcare related, I would like to see it stay that way, but I just have to address Paul Martin’s political comment. Campaign contributions are a form of speech, no different than buying a billboard, print space in a publication, or TV spot supporting/denouncing a position. You spend money to get your message out. Thanks to the internet, this last election cycle proved that so-called “Corporations” aren’t the only ones throwing their money around. It is kind of naive to believe that “corporations” are the evil empire that causes all of this country’s ills. May I… Read more »

Paul M. Martin
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Hi Matt – Don’t know whether you’ve visited this topic here in the past, but I’d like to call attention to something as close to the root cause of America’s healthcare problems as I’ve been able to find: the 1976 Buckley v. Valeo Supreme Court decision, which equates unlimited spending on behalf of political candidates with “free speech”. Money has been talking with a megaphone ever since. Corporate money buys the politicians we get to choose from. It purchases the sort of legislation that allows boilerplate health insurance policy language to explicitly state that your health insurance’s medical director can… Read more »

gadfly
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gadfly

There are also hospital staff without medical insurance in California. I had to go to a retina specialist for an eye problem last year, and the assistant who did the angiogram told me that her job didn’t have any health insurance. The office of the retina specialist was part of Summit medical center, and I’m sure she wasn’t the only assistant in the building with those terms of employment. I also applied for work in a doctor’s office about 10 years ago. It paid $7/hr. in Manhattan. Nurses were extremely low paid until recently: I have an aunt who is… Read more »

John
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John

It’s amazing how hospital assume this veil of poverty, yet continue to make health profits. In S. Fla one major hospital system (Baptist Health Systems, having a monopoly on half the county) pleads poor in reference the number of charity care, and bad debt write off ($91m in 2004). A few weeks earlier, in the South Florida Business Journal an article discusses the profits hospitals make. Baptist Hospital is at the top of the list. As HMO’s profit margins sunk in the early 00’s, hospital profits continued to increase. In fact, Hospitals in South Florida make more money than all… Read more »

gadfly
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gadfly

In the case of Alta Bates (Summit) in Berkeley, the hospital tries to escape the billing issue all together by shifting responsibility to outside providers through contract arrangements. And then both the hospital and the outside providers obfuscate the billing process so responsibility processing can be shifted to a disreputable collections agency that has no authority for negotiation and can use unlimited means of harassment and punitive measures (such as interest and fees) to get the money. Or, more likely, they won’t get the money, and a person who is already on the bottom of the social heap will suffer… Read more »

tony
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this is such a growing and disturbing problem. What can hospitals do to address this? sigh…
on a side note, I thought the “$63MM to $77.5MM from 2000 to 2004” comment from the hospital association spokesman didn’t help his case. That’s only a 5.3% increase per year?!