Monday, 09 February 2015 12:39
Baton Rouge hospital closure due to Louisiana socialized medicine
Written by 

Health reformPredictably, critics who call the closure of the emergency room for Baton Rouge General Medical Center a failure of public policy show the real failure comes in their unwillingness to grasp of the laws of economics, especially as it related to health care.

 

For months, the expenses of its emergency room had been outstripping its revenues, especially after the old Earl K. Long Medical Center closed due its deteriorating and outmoded condition, with most of its services done with state money now performed at Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center. This is as BRG Mid City’s was the only ER left near the north Baton Rouge area, the lowest socioeconomic status area in town, and many patients that used EKL for primary care instead of taking the longer trip to OLOL started heading to Mid City.

More business usually is good and helps the bottom line – unless you are in the health care business with its perverse incentives due to extensive subsidization of some people’s health care by others. In fact, business was so good at Mid City that its statistics show the typical wait in the ER was twice the national and Louisiana averages and typical treatment time half again longer, with the federal government’s indicator of hospital quality defining its ER volume as “very high,” or a minimum of a visit every 8 minutes.

But the problem is and always has been, because they get their health care essentially for free, poor adults would access such care for more trivial reasons and in less efficient ways – often a trip to the ER for ailments not deserving of intensive medicine. As the data have shown, the poorer – especially those on Medicaid – are disproportionately likelier to engage in this behavior.

Which means that the provider spends much more in delivery than it would have to for ailments that get a relatively low level of reimbursement, because these don’t require emergency medicine, both from private insurance or government insurance – although relatively few ER visitors there, if they have insurance, have something other than Medicaid – and uncompensated care payments for minor ailments also cannot pay enough for those addressed through emergency medicine. This created such an imbalance in payments that months ago the state set up a special subsidization in order to keep the ER open. Unfortunately, that was not enough and the hospital’s administration announced that soon it would stop delivering that service. The state hopes to steer resources to the area’s urgent care centers, where the vast majority of Mid City’s former ER patients could receive appropriate care, and costing taxpayers and providers less.

Understand that the difficulties have come not from the lack of state dollars going into the area, but from a government-subsidized system of health care in this country that encourages wasteful use of such dollars, worsened by the passage of the misnamed Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.. That seems lost on critics of the closure, such as one far-left business writer from California who blithely declared Medicaid expansion in Louisiana could have kept that ER open – ignorant, perhaps willfully, that the propensity of the Medicaid expansion population disproportionately to use emergency room services that would have degraded further that service delivery while costing taxpayers and ratepayers more money than ever.

Regrettably, the proportionately few who need intense emergency medicine and fast will have to endure transit to other city ERs. But that’s the fault of socialized medicine that does not discourage overconsumption by those least invested in paying for it and in inefficient use of resources, and perhaps of Mid City administrators who must find more efficient delivery means, not in the lack of dollars provided by a state that already spends over $6 billion a year of its own revenues, or 41 percent of all its own resources, on health care for the indigent and the disabled. Concluding otherwise disregards that inconvenient truth and obscures that the real solution here is not to embrace more, but to retreat from, socialized medicine.

Agree or disagree?  Tell us below

 

Jeffrey Sadow

Jeffrey Sadow is an associate professor of political science at Louisiana State University in Shreveport.   He writes a daily conservative blog called Between The Lines

Website: jeffsadow.blogspot.com/
Login to post comments
  • A July 4th Fact of Facts: America is Land of Immigrants
  • Poll: Trump strong on jobs, weak on tweets, viewed as reckless, thin-skinned, sexist
  • President Trump, It doesn't feel like Independence Day
  • YIPPIE! The naked truth about free speech, cherished especially on Independence Day

mass2On July 4, 1778, George Washington doubled liquor rations for the soldiers quartered in Princeton, NJ, as a way to celebrate Independence Day. It’s fitting, therefore, that the Fourth of July is America's top-selling beer holiday, according to the Beer Institute. It estimated, in 2013, that sales of beer on the 4th could total $1 billion, doubtlessly higher today. “In moderation,” claims a CA brewery investor, Grover McKean, “beer is tasty and healthy.” Who could disagree?

Read More

joe mikaAs Donald Trump faces the top world leaders this week, including a face-time with Vladimir Putin, and as his healthcare proposals face an uphill climb, his poll numbers for how the nation views him could be better.

According to a morning Consult/Politico poll released Wednesday morning, his tweets, including that against MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski, and his personality are not helping him, at all.

Read More

indy dayII know the calendar says we are approaching the 4th of July, but, it just doesn’t feel like Independence Day.

Perhaps it should.  It’s hot as heck.  The airlines have been packed. The hot dogs are ready for grilling.  The umps are saying, "play ball". The patriotic activities are scheduled. The fireworks are ready-for-blasting. 

Yet, it just doesn’t feel like independence day.

Read More

bill rights2To President Thomas Jefferson, July 4th celebrated more than the signing of the Declaration of Independence. He thought it was a link to the future. The message prominent colonists sent to King George III led to the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, the initial and most prominent feature of which is the First Amendment that guarantees free speech. It’s part of the country’s fundamental essence that each man and woman can say what they feel about government, or anything else, proving President Donald Trump needs some civics lessons.

Read More

latter-blum2

Dead Pelican

Optimized-DeadPelican2 1 1