Coalition Not Competition

So, HCA wants to build a new hospital in Spring Hill, and their competitors are not happy about it. Williamson Medical Center, St. Thomas Health Services and Vanderbilt University Medical Center have teamed up to form the Coalition4Care, an organization created solely, well, to oppose HCA’s plans, which still need approval by the HSDA.

The list of evidence on the Coalition4Care fact sheet is not particularly impressive. Their list of grievances basically boils down to “will increase competition”, and “decreases our ability to recruit physicians”. Are we really facing a physician shortage? I looked quickly for some numbers but couldn’t find much.

E. Thomas Wood at the Nashville Post had this to say:

Imagine that. A group of wealthy and profitable enterprises does not wish to have another wealthy and profitable enterprise open a branch in its market area. In other news, Kroger and Wild Oats are opposed to the new Whole Foods being built in Green Hills. Likewise, there is virtually unanimous opposition among AmSouth, Pinnacle, Cumberland, SunTrust and other banks in my neighborhood to the new Fifth Third branch under construction on Abbott Martin.

I am generally inclined to agree with him. But the healthcare industry is not comparable to the banking or grocery industry for a number of reasons, with previous government intervention high among them. It’s not exactly a level playing field. Does Vandy, et al. have a legitimate grievance here?

2 Comments so far

  1. Kate O' (unregistered) on May 8th, 2006 @ 12:38 pm

    I think it’s pretty much the same. Maybe it shouldn’t be — I’d love to see some elements of socialized medicine implemented in this country — but the way things are, it seems to me that healthcare is basically just like any other industry, and competition is good for business.

    (In the interest of full disclosure, I’m a former HCA employee and I do hold a small amount of stock in the company. But I’m genuinely interested in seeing the best healthcare option made available for everyone, and I’d love to hear others’ opinions on how that can be achieved.)

  2. Jim (unregistered) on May 9th, 2006 @ 10:29 am

    I agree with most of the expressed sentiments but I am always a little wary when a company as large as HCA comes muscling it’s way into an already crowded market. I’d hate to see the “Wal-Martization” of hospital care. That is, I don’t want a huge, conglomo-corp like HCA moving in, killing off all smaller competitors leaving the consumer with less options and a bunch of empty hospitals.

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