Historically, hospital mergers have meant higher healthcare costs for patients. So when Cabell-Huntington Hospital announced it would buy St. Mary's Medical Center over a year ago, a federal consumer protection agency stepped in to prevent the consolidation. Now, West Virginia legislation that made it to Governor Earl Ray Tomblin’ desk Saturday could remove barriers to the merger and set a precedent for hospitals in similar standoffs around the country.
Appalachia Health News’ Kara Lofton talked with Marketplace’s Dan Gorenstein and Leemore Dafny, director of Health Enterprise Management at Northwestern University about the merger in a recent Q&A. Gorenstein and Dafny's main concerns are that the merger will raise healthcare costs (by as much as 15 percent according to Dafny) and lower healthcare quality.
Advocates of the acquisition, including Cabell-Huntington’s CEO and vice president, defend the merger saying they are committed to “restraining the costs of health care to the fullest extent practicable,” and that the merger will not affect quality of care.
Appalachia Health News is a project of West Virginia Public Broadcasting, with support from the Benedum Foundation.