Keep specialty hospital moratorium until indigent are adequately served

LETTER — Posted Jan. 17, 2005

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Regarding "AMA: Don't extend moratorium on specialty hospitals" (Article, Dec. 27, 2004): The moratorium on specialty hospitals should remain in place until the specialty hospitals provide the same (or similar) amount of care to the indigent as do the public hospitals.

The public hospitals have been providing this care; however, the specialty hospitals, for the most part "cherry-pick" those areas of medicine that are profitable.

This issue of "improving medical care," "innovative thinking," "improving quality of care," blah, blah, blah, is nothing more than a smoke-screen for innovative thinking in revenue generation.

Many specialty hospitals do not maintain full-function EDs and "refer" to the public hospitals, cherry-pick the money areas (surgery) and do not accept for care patients who have little or no financial resources.

Do the indigent get admitted to these institutions for this "innovative medicine" or "improved quality"? I suspect we all know the answer. When the playing field is leveled, then the AMA should support removing the ban.

Frederick E. Harlass, MD, El Paso, Texas

Note: This item originally appeared at http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2005/01/17/edlt0117.htm.

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