The Puget Sound emergency room construction boom is in full swing, and Seattle Times reporter Carol Ostrom has taken a pointed look at the cost-related consequences of local hospital expansion.
She examines why hospitals are opting for more and glitzier ERs over lower-cost alternatives such as clinics and urgent care facilities. She also considers why state efforts to guide hospitals toward more efficient spending have failed, and explains how hospitals justify their actions. If you don’t have time for the full story, here’s a relatively tame excerpt:
The ER building boom has prompted a backlash from some lawmakers and advocates of affordable health care, who complain that nearly all Washington hospitals get substantial tax breaks and construction financing through tax-exempt bonds.
Free-standing ERs, these critics charge, are cash cows for hospitals, strategically built in affluent areas to lure busy, well-insured patients and collect fat reimbursements.