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Letters: Putting a price on healthcare

May 21, 2013

Re "Cedars stands out for steep pricing," May 17

Casting aspersions on some hospitals for exorbitant pricing gives the impression that some facilities actually "profit" from such practices. Without going into the variances in operating costs among small community hospitals, teaching and research medical centers and university facilities, it must be said that many of these institutions are nonprofits, including Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

Hospitals need to make money just as any other business. The difference here is that any and all surpluses go back into capital improvements and expansion, salaries for professional and ancillary staff, teaching and service programs and other pro-growth services.

While hospital directors in large institutions are usually paid well, such salaries represent an insignificant portion (less than 1%) of their annual budgets.

Dan Anzel

Los Angeles

The writer is a former hospital administrator.

How can Cedars Chief Executive Thomas Priselac defend his hospital's average charges for certain procedures by saying the "billed charges are neither meaningful, accurate nor reliable"? To anyone who still has an ounce of common sense, that's an indictment for price-gouging of certain cash-paying and uninsured patients.

How can we believe anything a Cedars official says, including the claim that government programs such as Medicare have under-reimbursed the hospital by $400 million? Let's get a system that pays for hospital care based on audited costs.

Bob Horvath

Long Beach

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