Health insurance companies would like you to believe that hospitals – despite being filled with folks dedicated to saving lives – are not on the side of patients. They’d like you to believe that hospitals are just in it for the profits.
Why? Because the more blame they can try to put on hospitals for costs, the less we’re able to focus on insurance company tactics that constrict coverage and drive costs for patients. Tactics like selling insurance plans that cost more but cover less. Tactics like underpaying hospitals and telling patients where they can and can’t receive care.
In short – it’s deflection. Or maybe projection. Exhibit A:
According to an article in WRAL, North Carolina state Attorney General Josh Stein hosted politicians, healthcare officials, and health insurers for a panel discussing their objections to partnerships between hospital systems.
Now, guess who wasn’t there? Health systems.
Yup—no health systems were present at Stein’s roundtable. Could it be because health system leaders might push back on the panel’s narrative? Might they share that North Carolina has one of the nation’s highest rates of rural hospital closures, and that partnering with larger systems is one of the few ways small hospitals are able to keep doors open for patients?
At least one panelist seemed to get it, pointing out that hospitals have faced unbelievable cost pressure due to COVID-19.
According to the article, “[Sen. Jim Burgin] said his local hospital had to spend an unbudgeted $3.2 million last year for traveling nurses to fill needed positions. ‘Who’s paying for that? The hospital has to pass that cost somewhere,” he said.
What insurers and regulators don’t seem to see is the forest for the trees: hospital closures are the product of decades of underfunding hospitals.
By partnering with bigger health systems, local hospitals throughout NC will have more financial backing. Jobs will then be preserved. Health will improve. Communities will be protected.
At the end of the day, saving a hospital means saving lives. How can AG Stein argue with that?