An interesting take on the “hospital wars”

Those of us in the Sioux Falls area have seen the “hospital wars” for years, from helicopters to heart centers. One perhaps not so new front that’s received a bit of attention lately is the donations the Sanford and Avera health systems are making to other entities, including government-funded ones such as the medical school and, most recently, for a science building at SDSU.

Last night Doug Wiken posted some thoughts from USD Law School professor Michael Myers, who teaches Elderlaw and Health Care Law & Policy at the Law School and heads up its Elderlaw Forum. An excerpt:

Thoughtful citizens should reflect on the nature of this generosity and ask themselves: where does this money come from? And, is it appropriate for “charities” like Sanford and Avera to collect money from patients, to accept tax-exempt gifts, and then behave like private philanthropists and “donate patient money” to the government?

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If Sanford and Avera are “charities” should they be gifting their monies to other “charities”—or to the State of South Dakota, which now takes on the role of a “charity”? If South Dakota wishes to support higher education should it not tax all of us, not just patients?

Regardless of where you stand on them, these are interesting and pertinent questions not only with respect to health care but the funding of higher education and other government obligations. Kudos to Doug and now go read the rest of the post.

We are convinced that traditional assumptions bear little relationship to the economics of the medical-industrial complex of [today].

Utah County v. Intermountain Health Care, Inc., 709 P.2d 265, 270 (Utah 1985)

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