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Peace at last


Published:   |   Updated: July 31, 2014 at 02:47 PM

We wish the headline above applied to the situation in Ukraine or the Middle East, but for now we’re happy to see a war, of the legal variety, has come to an end. The battle, however, again underscored some of the peculiarity of modern health care finance.

Late last week, three big hospitals on the Suncoast — Tampa General Hospital and St. Joseph’s Hospital, also in Tampa, and Bayfront Health St. Petersburg — filed notice that they were dropping their challenge of the state’s 2011 authorization of trauma centers at Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point, in Hudson, and Blake Medical Center, in Manatee County. The three hospitals opposing the new trauma centers had been contending they would take away patients and the revenue they generate and the state didn’t follow rules in approving the new centers.

An administrative law judge did find that the rules under which the new trauma centers were approved were invalid, but the Florida Department of Health wrote replacement rules that include a scoring system to aid trauma center approval decisions.

The end of the trauma center battle — UF Health Shands, in Gainesville, had already dropped its challenge of a new trauma center in Ocala — again underscores the problem of controlling rising health care costs without increasing the supply of health care services and providers. This is one of the flaws of the Affordable Care Act of 2010. President Barack Obama said the law would extend health coverage to “millions” of previously uninsured people but created no additional doctors, nurses and health care facilities.

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