The following is a letter to the editor of the Johnson City Press that they was not printed.
It is possible that the article was not relevant, uninteresting or poorly written.
It is also possible that they did not want to offend one of their major advertisers. I will let the reader be the judge of that.
July 19, 2003
Letter to the editor:
Most newspapers reserve their advertising for the inside pages. However, on July 19th you broke journalistic tradition by printing the Mountain States Health Alliance fact sheet on your front page. Given that you ran this thinly veiled press release in the most prominent part of the paper, your readers might wonder whether the JCP is part of "the alliance" as well.
On closer inspection of MSHA’s own numbers, it seems there’s not much to brag about. MSHA’s average charge per inpatient admission was $22,936 and per outpatient service was $1,355. No wonder health insurance costs are going through the roof.
There is no question that MSHA has been charitable - but to what cause? Last year (from its own numbers) it gave over 6 times more to non-patient related charities (less than 0.4% of gross revenues) than its Washington County hospitals provided in charity care. I thought the purpose of a hospital was to provide medical care. MSHA's own numbers suggest otherwise.
We out of county physicians appreciate many of the medical services MSHA provides and refer many of our patients to Johnson City Medical Center for specialty care. We just prefer to stay safely away from "the alliance.”
This was what I was about to send except that my office assistant told me I needed to tone it down.
I suspect that most of its revenue is derived from “non-profit” activity. Yet it gave less than 0.4% of its gross revenues to charity care – just the kind of generosity one would expect from a judicially protected monopoly.