January 8, 2013

Maybe we're overpaying for hospital care

Letter to the Editor

According to newspaper reports, the state owes Maine hospitals more than $100 million and has around another $100 million in debt.

Is anyone questioning whether we overpay for hospital care in our state?

It seems all over Maine hospitals are expanding, including MaineGeneral in Augusta building a new suburban, private-room facility to replace its existing semi-private room, in-town facility.

Where the money is coming from to build the new facility is anyone's guess since just last year your paper reported that the hospital was operating in the black.

Then there was the recent article that said the average occupancy rate for Maine hospitals is below the national average of 66 percent, and nursing staff being laid off as hospitals continue to build new property tax-free, hospital or hospital-affiliated specialty clinics such as the one on Civic Center drive or the one at the former Kmart location in Scarborough.

Simple math tells us fewer beds divided into fixed annual costs and new construction expense means high room rates and higher costs to consumers.

When one looks at the new construction, one wonders what the necessity is for expansive reception and entranceways, the heat and electricity for which is built into the room rates.

Then there are the doctors. Does anybody know a poor one?

To make matters worse, it is rumored that the state has been overpaying a number of health care providers for several months past.

With the information that has been put out there, one might conclude that there is an immediate need for an in-depth analysis of the Maine health care delivery system.

The alternative would be to let a bad situation get worse.

Patrick Eisenhart

Augusta

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