Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Mixed Messages

 “News is what someone wants suppressed. Everything else is advertising.”

 — Katharine Graham, Publisher of The Washington Post during the Watergate scandal

The following was submitted by a Boise business leader:
Monday June 20, Boise resident Bob Kaiser submitted the following letter to the editorial board at the Idaho Statesman.  The letter challenges the editorial board's published opinion that all of the proposed St Luke's expansion's medical office buildings (nearly half of the project) should be located on their downtown hospital campus, to provide proximity and convenience. Ironically, this position directly contradicts the newspaper's own reporting by its health care business reporter, who has won national and state awards for her reporting on health care and public affairs. 

Here is the rebuttal letter:

Dear Statesman editorial board:  

I would like to introduce you to newspaper reporter Audrey Dutton.  Audrey is an award winning Healthcare reporter for the Idaho Statesman, your very own newspaper. Over the last 4 years, Audrey's in-depth healthcare articles have educated many readers in Southwestern Idaho about the reasons behind the high cost of healthcare.

In Sunday's editorial regarding St Luke's expansion, you wrote, "Though some have suggested that the St. Luke’s plan includes an inordinate number of medical office buildings that could be located elsewhere in the city, we don’t buy that. To the contrary, we feel the proximity and convenience in the new plans serve patients trying to get well." 

Yet, in one of Audrey’s articles printed in the Statesman on October 28, 2012 she summarized, "HOSPITAL-BASED = HIGHER CHARGES" and in that article she went on to detail why that is the case.  Per your own newspaper's investigative reporting it has been shown that outpatient visits, procedures, labs, imaging, all cost significantly more when delivered on a hospital campus. 

The question I’d like to ask the editorial board is this; do you read your own newspaper reporting or just the corporate press releases and paid advertising?

Bob Kaiser, Boise

The proposed St Luke's expansion includes nearly 300,000 square feet of medical office buildings, which includes outpatient services and doctor offices. In many cases, outpatient doctors do not provide inpatient care, which is typically handled by a hospitalist. All three Medical Office Buildings and associated parking could be easily built on St Luke's 5.6 acre downtown Boise property on Fairview Avenue, between 25th and 27th Street, or their Americana property or their Meridian Campus. A new medical office building complex could provide outpatient visits, procedures, labs, imaging, and offer affordable off-campus healthcare with proximity and convenience.

If the proposed St Luke's expansion were completed, it would have nearly 100,000 square feet more space in just Medical Office Buildings than the entire square footage of the St Luke's Meridian Campus.

In an October 30, 2015 IdahoStatesman article, Audrey wrote about a cancer patient's out-of-pocket costs increasing 490 percent after her doctor joined St. Luke's.

"When a cancer patient wrote an email to St. Luke’s CEO David Pate saying her costs for blood work spiked from $40 to $236 after her doctor joined St. Luke’s, she prompted a string of emails among St. Luke’s employees and leaders.

Her blood work was suddenly billed as occurring in a hospital, and her insurance plan wouldn’t cover that, leaving her with the full charge."

Middle-class families are experiencing rising healthcare costs first-hand through ever increasing employee contributions, larger deductibles, and co-pays.

Given a choice, most Treasure Valley residents would choose affordable healthcare that is closer to the county's population center over the hardship of surprise hospital-based blood work costs that may increase 490 percent and having to cover the cost themselves because their health insurance does not.

Keep Boise Connected, Inc. has never been against better or more convenient health care.  What we have opposed is the taking of our public streets for the primary purpose of generating more profit for a supposed not-for-profit entity, particularly when there appear to be obvious and better options for the community.  It doesn't help when the very institutions that are supposed to act as a safeguard on the public's behalf, namely our government and our local press, have seemingly "sold out" on their responsibilities.

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