For the last approximately six months we have been observing requested silence on our health care transformation project. Today we will end that silence and tell you what has been happening. Dr. Merton Finkler, William McLaughlin, and David Riemer have approached various public officials with an idea. We suggested that public sector employers organize to create a health care purchasing cooperative. Over the last approximately six months, seven local school districts: Appleton, Neenah, Menasha, Kaukauna, Kimberly, Hortonville, and Little Chute, have been meeting to discuss whether and how to form a cooperative. That cooperative would purchase health care differently, not only for the school districts, but-potentially-for non-profits, small businesses and other members of the Fox Valley community. FVHCTI has been involved in most of these meetings and has served as a consultant to the effort.
The outbreak of the corona virus has put this effort on the back-burner, but we believe it will continue. The school districts appear committed to the idea of a cooperative; however, it requires major changes in the way they have done business in the past. Change is not easy; however, the current situation will likely make this change easier than it appeared pre-crisis. In our opinion the biggest obstacle has been developing an understanding of the flaws in the current system that reward inefficient provider and consumer behaviors that result in higher prices and poor quality of care. Once those concepts have been understood, corrective actions to increase the value of the resources devoted to health can be designed relatively easily.
The message FVHCTI has been trying to communicate for the last three years is that the organizations that have been entrusted with the responsibility for delivering care in our community have been, in our opinion, placing their organizational goals (market dominance, revenue maximization) ahead of community goals of high quality, affordable services. Based on the health needs assessments done for the Fox Valley, if we continue to spend the vast majority of our resources on high cost medical care services, we can’t expect much improvement in the health of the community. The governing bodies and executive management of these now enormous organizations have been, in our opinion, going in the wrong direction. They also lack transparency and accountability to our community. This MUST change.
There is no greater example of this fact, again in our opinion, than the decision by ThedaCare to build a $144 million “mini-hospital” that will simply increase costs and misallocate resources. For example, at current prices, $144 million would purchase over 3,000 ventilators and adequate PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) for health care workers.
We need broader participation in determining community objectives for our health care organizations. The boards of trustees of Ascension and ThedaCare must be reconfigured to reflect and advance community needs rather than organizational goals and objectives.
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