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Reimbursement for Treating the Poor

April 03, 1988

Indigent care or uncompensated care continues to grow in total dollars in Orange County as it does elsewhere. The Indigent Medical Services (IMS) program is falling apart day by day.

The percentage of reimbursement to physicians, hospitals and other health care providers continues to decline.

As this downward spiral continues, there seems to be substantial dissatisfaction by all parties. In the end it will be the patient who winds up on the short end as physicians refuse to see patients and hospitals do the same. Hospitals don't treat patients, physicians do.

Fingers are pointed in all directions as the county blames the state and the hospitals blame the county. Officials within the County Board of Supervisors and Health Care Agency say hospitals will get the patients anyway and therefore we have to accept whatever comes our way with little or no payment.

The supervisors should stop patting themselves on the back for the so-called "Partnership of Health." The partnership is a farce. It is a unilateral relationship that is being held up by physicians, hospitals and others--but not by the board. Partnerships are a two-way street, not a one-way shove-it-down-the-other-party's-throat.

This is a broad-based social issue for the community that has mutated into a financial issue. We in the health care industry are doing more than our part. Let's see county officials do the same or face whatever music comes their way.

CRAIG G. MYERS

Executive Director

Coastal Communities Hospital

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