FVHO Purchase and Converting Ascension and ThedaCare to Cooperatives

The following text is a letter to the editor of the Post-Crescent submitted for publication today. If you live in the Fox Valley we urge you to contact your alderperson, county executive, and mayor to urge them to review the FVHO transaction...

"On April 10th, the Post-Crescent reported that ThedaCare purchased Fox Valley Hematology and Oncology. The article noted that FVHO had previously built a $23 million facility, and ThedaCare countered by constructing a $44 million facility to “compete.” Thus, Fox Valley residents and businesses will be obliged to pay medical bills that “help” ThedaCare pay off at least $67 million in new capital costs. We believe local officials should review the terms of this transaction before it is closed.

Such reckless spending is a major factor driving up prices for medical care and insurance. To understand how such decisions to raise health costs are made, we asked ThedaCare and Ascension for information (bylaws) about how their Trustees are selected. We have been rebuffed by both. Presumably they want to keep accountability a mystery.

Dane County is the only market in Wisconsin where even modest competition helps keep health spending down. We have proposed a health plan that attempts to replicate that environment through a purchasing cooperative anchored by all public sector organizations.

We also encourage a change in the business models (and organizational objectives) that underpin these organizations. ThedaCare appears focused on revenue and market share expansion. Ascension’s objectives and resource allocation, once local, have been swallowed up by a national corporation. Affordable care for Fox Cities residents appears to play no role in decision-making for either organization.

The Group Health Cooperative (GHC) of Madison, is owned by its members who receive their care from GHC and elect its Trustees. This local and transparent model contrasts sharply with the mysterious “top-down” approach of both ThedaCare and Ascension that results in reckless spending. Why not convert Ascension and ThedaCare to this model? Neither have shareholders; so, who would be harmed?"