Two top not-for-profit hospital leaders who launched a campaign to fight the advances of investor-owned chains said they'll continue their efforts despite last month's summit to settle growing antagonism between the two ownership sectors.
Meanwhile, that campaign failed to sway a Tennessee not-for-profit hospital that last week agreed to be sold to the nation's largest investor-owned chain, Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp.
C. Thomas Smith, president and chief executive officer of VHA, and Ben Latimer, president of SunHealth Alliance, told MODERN HEALTHCARE they hadn't changed their resolve. "We expect to continue our advocacy effort," Latimer said.
Smith said: "Nothing has changed, but nothing was expected to change. This is a long-term issue."
The summit was a private meeting convened by American Hospital Association President Richard Davidson. Those attending included Smith; Latimer; Richard Scott, Columbia's president and CEO; R. Clayton McWhor-ter, Healthtrust's chairman, president and CEO; and Thomas Scul-ly, Federation of American Health Systems' president and CEO (March 27, p. 2).
One VHA member, 176-bed Goodlark Regional Medical Center, Dickson, Tenn., last week agreed to be acquired by Columbia for $103 million. The sale includes 29-bed Cheatham Medical Center, Ashland City, Tenn., and a home healthcare business, both owned by the hospital.
Goodlark also was a member of the Hospital Alliance of Tennessee, which has criticized for-profit hospitals (Oct. 31, 1994, p. 20).
"I don't think the Hospital Alliance can paint with a broad brush what is best for all not-for-profit hospitals," said Doug Jackson, a board member and attorney for Goodlark. "Some of the arguments voiced to me are invalid, such as costs and charges will go up. The marketplace decides pricing."
After repaying debt and some other obligations, about $75 million of the sale proceeds from Goodlark will go to fund a community foundation.
Richard Wade, AHA's senior vice president for communications, said the association convened the summit with the players it did because they were the ones making the aggressive public statements that concerned the AHA.
He denied that the group purposely excluded the Catholic Health Association, which has taken a strong stand on the importance of not-for-profit healthcare, from the summit. Wade emphasized that the CHA would be invited to any further summit-style meetings on the hospital ownership debate.
Davidson briefed the AHA's board of trustees on the summit last week, and the board was supportive of the effort, Wade said. The board also agreed that the association should convene similar meetings whenever the AHA deems it appropriate, he said.