Adding a consumer perpective to the hospital ownership debate, the American Association of Retired Persons is studying the differences between for-profit and not-for-profit hospitals, MODERN HEALTHCARE has learned.
Until now, most of the research on hospital conversions has been generated by special-interest groups representing one side or the other.
The AARP has hired the Washington-based Alpha Center, a not-for-profit healthcare policy research group, to study conversions of hospitals from not-for-profit to for-profit. Neither the AARP nor the Alpha Center would disclose costs of the study or how much the AARP is paying for it.
With 32 million members, the AARP is the nation's largest personal membership association and a potent lobbying force in Washington.
"Hospital conversions have a direct effect on our membership," said AARP spokesman Greg Marchildon.
The AARP wouldn't comment on what it plans to do with results of the study, which could be released as early as this spring.
Debra Chollet, vice president at the Alpha Center, said it is gathering data and performing interviews, and it expects the report to be released in the next few weeks.
Chollet said the center is using published articles and research for its study, as well as interviewing hospital executives and community representatives.
The report will look at about seven hospital conversions, examining acute-care private or publicly owned not-for-profits purchased by doctors, individuals or hospital companies. It will include hospitals acquired by Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp., Nashville; Tenet Healthcare Corp., Santa Barbara, Calif.; and Community Health Systems, Brentwood, Tenn.
"We are finding there are some consistent management things that can occur," Chollet said. "They (the new for-profit owner) will often hire a collection agency to boost revenue, but often the relationship with the community isn't the same after (the ownership change)."