R.I. hospitals should coordinate, not split themselves apart

Once the hard feelings of the recent failed hospital merger abate, we need to get back to work improving health-care delivery in Rhode Island. Competition works in much of the economy, but not so well in health care; not when you’re brought to the emergency room unconscious; not for complicated illnesses; not for people managing multiple conditions.

Rhode Island has invested a lot of effort into building the elements of a smart, coordinated system to serve patients, especially in the areas of developing a statewide health information exchange and lowering costs through Accountable Care Organizations.

But nationally, our health-care system produces life expectancy similar to Croatia, for per-capita cost 50 percent higher than our most expensive international rival — all while leaving many without even adequate coverage.

Rhode Island has the right size, the right leadership, and the right elements to become a national model in the delivery of health care. The path to that success is through coordination, not splitting up our hospitals among mergers with out-of-state owners.

The charge of a hospital is not just to protect the corporate bottom line, it’s to serve the public in delivering world-class, efficient, safe, and affordable health care. When the raw feelings have abated, that public charge is still the great opportunity before us.

Sheldon Whitehouse, Newport

The writer is a Democratic U.S. senator.

By:  Sheldon Whitehouse
Source: The Providence Journal