Letters to the Editor

A better approach

The recent viewpoint (April 24) decrying Sierra Vista hospital’s planned cardiac program exemplifies the duplicity affecting our health care system generally. Comments that extol competition and not-for-profit status are disingenuous. The truth is that competition in hospital care is never price competition, and nonprofits make money, they just don’t pay taxes. Nowhere do we read that the service will be better and more cost-effective.

The fact is San Luis Obispo County enjoys an abundance of high-tech medical services inefficiently arrayed with no thought of competing to be cost-effective. Selectively jawboning the community to discourage development of a competitor is a time-honored practice in hopes of creating a profitable enterprise.

A better approach might be a coordinated effort to maximize cost-effectiveness. Examples of duplicated services abound including obstetrics, emergency departments, high-cost imaging equipment and clinical laboratories. And spare us the admonition that competition is good.

These authors are advocating a one-sided monopoly of services. A better approach would be to do as they state in reality, not rhetoric, and have hospitals jointly be “ directly accountable to the community.”