Denial of transfer agreement a sound business decision for Central Peninsula Hospital

  • Saturday, September 6, 2014 8:22pm
  • Opinion

A NEWLY OPENED KENAI-BASED SURGICALcenter has been at the center of a growing controversy due to its inability to treat Medicare and Medicaid patients without a transfer agreement with Central Peninsula Hospital.

At issue are a group of patients whom both the hospital CEO Rick Davis and Surgery Center of Kenai vice president Harold Gear said are typically the lowest-paying patients — though at more than 100 million people covered by Medicare and Medicaid nationwide, we’re betting that both institutions could use the boost to their bottom lines.

The hospital denied the transfer agreement in July and since that time, the Clarion has received numerous letters to the editor; residents have spoken out against the decision on local radio shows and in other newspapers. Each makes the argument that Central Peninsula Hospital is somehow bullying the surgery center and should be more concerned about providing Kenai Peninsula Borough residents with the cheapest options for healthcare — not its own bottom line.

Opponents of the hospital’s decision have characterized the denial as a deliberate limiting of care options for patients on the Kenai Peninsula, one that gave it a monopoly on health care services, but we think the hospital made the right decision.

In 2010, when the hospital board recommended that the borough enter a public-private partnership with a for-profit firm, the borough assembly and the borough residents overwhelmingly rejected the deal.

“They are investment bankers and basically looking to make money off this hospital,” wrote former borough mayor Dave Carey in a letter to the hospital board. “Any local funds should stay local.”

The hospital is still fully owned by the Kenai Peninsula Borough and, by extension, borough taxpayers. It is the responsibility of the hospital board to ensure the continued viability of the business and signing an agreement with a privately-owned business, one that could cut into its revenue, would not be good for business.

As distasteful as it may seem for patients seeking care from either facility, medical care is not an altruistic pursuit for institutions that provide it — it is a business.

Borough residents cannot have both a fully publically-owned hospital that stays financially stable – and one that undermines its own business every time a private company comes into town and offers medical services at a lower cost.

Medicare patients make up about 26 percent of the hospital’s business and another 16 percent is Medicaid patients, Davis told the Clarion.

Gear told the Clarion that without the ability to treat Medicare and Medicaid patients — the surgery center would have enough business to remain profitable.

This is not an issue of one business causing another to fail by limiting access to patients, and therefore revenue, this is one of two institutions fighting over profit.

And, while the loss of Medicare and Medicaid patient revenue might not cripple either provider — borough taxpayers ought not expect Central Peninsula Hospital to establish business practices that would undermine its ability to stay profitable in the long run.

More in Opinion

LaDawn Druce asks Sen. Jesse Bjorkman a question during a town hall event on Saturday, Feb. 25, 2023, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Opinion: Addressing Kenai Peninsula’s education and public safety employee shortage

Many of our best and brightest educators take a hard and close look at the teacher’s retirement system in Alaska early in their careers and are stunned

Deven Mitchell, executive director of the Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation (Courtesy photo)
Opinion: Providing for generations of Alaskans

As a public endowment, the wealth of the Fund is the responsibility of every resident of the state

U.S. Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Mitt Romney greet each other outside the chamber at the U.S. Capitol on April 5, 2022. (J. Scott Applewhite / AP file photo)
Opinion: Alaska’s senators and Mitt Romney

When newly elected Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, began his term five years… Continue reading

A line of voters runs out the door of the Diamond Ridge Voting Precinct at the Homer Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center on Election Day, Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2022, in Homer, Alaska. Chamber Executive Director Brad Anderson said he had never seen the amount of people coming through the polling place. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)
How many ways can you vote?

Multiple ballot options available to voters

UAA Provost Denise Runge photographed outside the Administration and Humanities Building.
Opinion: UAA offers affordable and convenient pathways that prepare students for the next step

At UAA, we provide numerous academic programs designed to meet specific workforce needs

scales of justice (File photo)
Opinion: The Dubious Dunleavy Deal to use public dollars for personal legal costs

In 2019, these regulation changes were ultimately abandoned without public notice

A 2022 voter information pamphlet rests on a desk in the Peninsula Clarion offices on Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2023, in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Where to find voter pamphlets

Be educated about what you are voting on

Trustees and staff discuss management and investment of the Alaska Permanent Fund. (Courtesy Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation)
Providing Alaska-based opportunities for professional talent

Expanding our in-state presence by opening a satellite office in Anchorage has been part of the fund’s strategic plan for the past four years

Ben Carson (center) visits Iditarod Elementary School in Wasilla with Gov. Mike Dunleavy (to Carson’s right) on Tuesday. (Official photo from the Office of the Governor)
Opinion: Embarrassing Alaska through neglectful governance

When Gov. Mike Dunleavy learned Dr. Ben Carson would be speaking in… Continue reading

Flowers bloom at Soldotna City Hall on Wednesday, June 24, 2021 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Municipal government? What are their responsibilities?

Municipal governments (boroughs and cities) are similar to state and federal governments

A voting booth for the Kenai Peninsula Borough and City of Homer elections at Cowles Council Chambers on Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2022 in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Charlie Menke/ Homer News)
Voices of the Peninsula: Will you vote?

Kenai Peninsula Votes is asking the reader if you have a plan for how you will vote