Thursday, February 17, 2005

Highland’s Good at Bad

We did it. We passed the inspection with only minimal findings. No one could find the elusive consulting team, Cambio Healthcare Solutions, the only proof we have of their continued existence is the massive revenue drain from their billing and the occasional memo. Still the inspectors actually noticed that private hospitals “dump” into the county system. Shocking, absolutely shocking. Who knew that they even cared, next time they come we’ll give them a list of dumped patients.

See dumping, or as one CEO I knew called it, “referral of underinsured patients to the appropriate public provider” is what keeps profits up and statistics pretty at private hospitals. People think you have to be poor, or a drug user, or perhaps illegal to get dumped, sure basic prejudice and discrimination counts, but the bottom line is really how costly is the disease. Cancer, now that’s an expensive disease and lupus there’s a disease that just keeps on costing. So county hospitals don’t just get the very poor, they get the very sick. When you’re real sick it’s easy to forget those extra forms and payments, and poof, insurance is gone. Bye bye, so long, you get referred to “the appropriate public healthcare provider.”

So who needs a public hospital, the really sick. The cancer business is booming at the medical center, as are all the medical clinics for people with diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and kidney disease. Medical center doctors can’t get rid of hard problems; they have no choice but to try to help patients to manage even the most difficult diseases. That’s why many of the best doctors in the Bay Area work at the medical center. They are really good at managing really bad health problems.

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