Reflex: December 13, 2011

Mandy Locke has the third (of four) piece in a series on hospital-system competition. The latest installment focuses on the relationship between the CEOs of UNC Health Care and WakeMed. Don’s comment: Interesting series, but that phrase Duke University health system has barely appeared in it. Dean Roper (CEO of UNC Health System) is quoted in the piece as hoping that UNC and WakeMed one day can merge. It seems to me the bottom line is this: there will be two big players in the RTP area of N.C.: UNC and Duke. The only question is whether there will be a third (WakeMed) or whether they will be gobbled by UNC (or Duke). The other non-Wake Med hospitals (Rex and Duke Raleigh) are already owned by UNC and Duke respectively. Yesterday’s related Reflex.

The House Republican bill to hold down payroll taxes and extend unemployment benefits will make it easier for doctors to own hospitals, writes Robert Pear. “The bill would repeal and relax several provisions of the 2010 health care lawthat clamped down on doctor-owned hospitals. The bill would allow such hospitals to open if they were under construction at the end of last year, and it would allow them to expand if they were already in existence. Congressional aides say dozens of hospitals and their physician owners could benefit.” Aaron’s Comment: I have no doubt. But it may not benefit the rest of us so much. When physicians own the stuff they use in health care, they tend to use it more.

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