People who watch the news know that the state’s debt to hospitals is one of the primary issues roiling Augusta, but that’s not the only financial strain facing our emergency medical providers. Cost containment from Obamacare, spiralling charity costs and ever-increasing regulations, salaries and equipment costs are squeezing hospitals in this state and nationally.
That Democrats and Republicans need to get beyond the silly debate over a TV screen inside the capitol and pass a law reimbursing 39 Maine hospitals the full $484 million owed them is a no-brainer. Gov. LePage has made repaying hospitals a centerpiece of his administration, and we beseech lawmakers to get this done sooner than later.
Time is of the essence. With all the challenges facing hospital administrators, this is one burden that can be lifted with some artful negotiating.
But while the state has an important role providing an even playing field on which our hospitals can operate, it can’t do everything.
A few months ago, we opined on this page that the state should reject Central Maine Healthcare Inc.’s application to operate Parkview Adventist Medical Center.
At the time, some construed the editorial as advocating the shutdown of Parkview in favor of Mid Coast Hospital. That is far from the outcome we desire, but is something that could occur if not for some creative intervention — and soon.
The Mid-coast region needs a hospital system whose costs are aligned with revenues; one that offers citizens the highest quality medical care and a chance to choose the care that’s right for them.
There are vast differences in their business cultures and footprints, but Parkview and Mid Coast share an enduring mission and have long histories here treating our sick and injured with expertise and compassion. We want the best of both for our readers.
Lewiston-based CMHC’s application to run Parkview is a temporary lifeline — not a solid forward operating plan — and with its failure to provide financial data as part of its application, we only feel more strongly than we did in February that this is the wrong medicine for Parkview.
However, a vision of one Brunswick-based hospital system offering a suite of medical services — including the strong faith-based and naturopathic approach offered by Parkview — is an increasingly compelling one. Decisions about scaling the operation and making it financially viable can best be made holistically, with geographic and market considerations in mind, one office running both hospitals as one integrated system, offering all the services and facilities our communities can afford while trimming away the others in a thoughtful way.
But waiting for lawmakers isn’t an option. It’s time for Brunswick’s two hospitals to start talking, if they are not already, about merging, to preserve the best of what both hospitals have to offer.