Unfortunately, the "GPO financials" chart in the pullout section of Modern Healthcare's Group Purchasing Survey (Aug. 16) issue is incorrect. Consorta provided information that was inaccurate, and we would like to correct it. Consorta's operating income was $25.6 million for 2002 and $33 million for 2003, making its margins 66.1% and 70%, respectively.
Vice president of contract operations and data management
Be careful in pointing fingers
Regarding your editorial "Not exempt from scrutiny" (June 7, p. 27), as the chief executive officer of a not-for-profit medical establishment, I also wonder about the not-for-profit status of many organizations that claim to be not-for-profit when they act so much like for-profit entities. But like most issues, this one isn't as clear as it may appear.
There have been a number of stories in the news about egregious moves by well-known not-for-profit organizations, particularly in the collections area. Unfortunately these events result most often from some clerical person or manager just trying to do their jobs, not because the organization aspires to be egregious. In our small organization, we have a committee empowered to write off entire patient balances. All that we ask is that the patient provide evidence of need. Quite often the patient refuses to provide any such evidence.
Obviously we can't just write off a balance because someone says he has need but provides no evidence. In these situations, we continue to pursue collection from these individuals even to the point of filing lawsuits if necessary. Many times the suits prompt the individuals to provide evidence of need, and we then write off the balances and drop the lawsuits.
Our approach seems like a thoughtful and appropriate way to exercise our fiduciary responsibility to the community to whom we are accountable. To challenge our tax-exempt status because of these procedures seems to be a bit of overkill.
Nowhere in your article do you challenge the exempt status of organizations such as Blue Cross and Blue Shield that hold themselves out as not-for-profits, yet by any absolute measure they act like for-profits. Talk about outrageous compensation; the executives of the Blues do quite well. And some of the buildings housing Blues organizations rival the opulence of a Wall Street banking firm. Finally, what about strong-arm tactics? From the standpoint of a healthcare provider, the Blues are the great white sharks of the insurance industry.
If we are going to do any finger-pointing, let's at least get all the players in the game.
Chief executive officer
North Canton (Ohio) Medical Foundation
What do you think?
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