Regarding the Feb. 23 cover story “Hospitals face closures as 'a new day in healthcare' dawns”, it's a great article. Unfortunately, these closures will eventually place the basic ability to care for our citizens at risk, especially in rapid response to superbugs, Ebola/SARS, natural disasters, terrorism—even plain old age.
Certainly city and county officials have plans for population growth, but most likely do not consider the age-specific chronic diseases and other illnesses that will drive the need for primary-care doctors and hospital beds. Hospitals are needed in our communities but are influenced by the competition of the local marketplace and artificial influences such as government rules and regulations. For example, Medicaid reimbursement rates are unreasonable and absolutely insulting to the healthcare profession. The American Medical Association and the American Hospital Association should be questioning the government's calculations and logic for these absurd payment levels.
Still, healthcare is local. Lakewood, Ohio, one example cited in the story, is in a hospital-rich urban area that is very competitive and finds it nearly impossible to compete financially with the bigger hospitals for reasonable pricing with insurance companies or keeping physicians on staff.
If you believe that healthcare is about choice, guess again. Instead, patients pick from a short list of physicians they get from the insurance company and must go to the hospital directed by the insurance company. If the patient wants to go to a hospital with better quality outcomes, they have to pay for it. Let's change the marketplace, but keep the hospitals open.