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'Hospitals Cut Cost, the Poor Bleed'

January 25, 1986

It was with great disappointment that I read Green's article. Medicine today is big business. Although his theoretical considerations are appropriate, he has totally ignored the pragmatic truths of the matter.

In reality, "big corporate medicine" has brought to minority areas a much needed "booster shot" to the ailing medical economy. Much needed hospital physical plant improvements, new updated equipment acquisitions, and new hospital services are only a few areas that have seen improvement. The sum total of all this new activity is that the hospitals in these areas are getting a much needed and deserved "face lift."

A seeming lost concept in medicine these days is "charity work." However it appears to be receiving attention by big corporate medicine. Just this past Christmas I was able to convince one of these "corporate hospitals" to perform surgery free of charge to the patient. For this child, 1986 will most definitely be a better and healthier year. Not to mention the rest of his life!

In fact, rather than contributing to "human suffering," corporate medicine is promoting "human wellness." Most, if not all, corporate hospitals in these minority areas have sought and obtained "Medi-Cal contracts." This has afforded them the ability to serve the needy of our state.

Many have structured financial packages for "non-insured or cash" patients at significant cost savings to these individuals. Nonetheless, all hospitals have adopted a policy of "emergency treatment and stabilization to all irrespective of ability to pay."

So I fail to see where this "competitive model" offends common sense and denies common decency. In effect what is truly happening is that the gap between health-care services for the rich and poor is finally closing.

ROBERT A. BELTRAN MD

Los Angeles

Beltran is a staff surgeon at Mission Hospital in Huntington Park.

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