Hoosier-style health reform: who needs government intervention?

Author:Gilbert, Jo

"I don't think you can regulate an industry like health care," says William Corley, CEO of Community Hospitals Indianapolis.

"We tried regulation in the '70s. We tried competition in the '80s," he continues. "What we've come up with in the '90s is managed competition. It's a combination of regulation and competition. It's my belief that's not going to work either.

"I think collaboration--with hospitals working together--would be a better way," he says. With that in mind, Community Hospitals Indianapolis plans to collaborate with cross-town former competitor St. Vincent Hospital & Health Care Center.

"I think that unnecessary duplication increases costs," says Bain J. Farris, president and CEO at St. Vincent. "And there has been, historically, a great degree of duplication."

"We don't need seven places where we can do open-heart surgery. We don't need four bone-marrow transplant centers," Corley adds. "The real costs are in these specialized services. By consolidating these services, the quality of service goes up and the cost of care goes down."

As the two hospitals are planning to merge everything but assets, anti-trust approval is needed from the U.S. Department of Justice. Approval is expected by March, then the two hospitals can iron out the details.

Eliminating duplication of services and increasing access to health care are two of the goals of Lake County Catholic Health Care Providers, a potential network in the northwestern part of the state.

The five hospitals in the proposed network are St. Margaret Mercy Healthcare Centers in Hammond and Dyer, St. Catherine Hospital in East Chicago, St. Mary Medical Center in Hobart and St. Anthony Medical Center in Crown Point.

Gene Diamond, CEO at St. Margaret Mercy Healthcare Centers and a member of the steering committee, says, "If we are able through our collaboration to eliminate duplication of services and focus jointly on ways to deliver our programs and services in a more cost-effective, high-quality manner, I think that's going to have a lot of appeal to purchasers of health care."

A goal of Indianapolis-based Methodist Hospital of Indiana is to form a statewide network with rural hospitals to give employers coverage over a broader geographic area. But it's more than just trying together hospitals, says Frank H. Learned of Methodist. So far, the hospital is working with Tipton County Memorial Hospital in sharing specialty services and offering Tipton doctors such Methodist services as...

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