The story out of Phoenix on June 30 is that a three member arbitration panel ordered Iasis Healthcare of Franklin, Tennessee and Mesa General Hospital to pay Advanced Cardiac Specialists in Mesa over $11.5 million dollars in damages.
While the arbitration finding is significant in terms of award size, the real story comes from the events leading up to the arbitration itself.
What series of events could possibly lead to over 11 million dollars in damages for a group of cardiac specialists? How could a healthcare corporation inflict that kind of damage, and in the field of healthcare, why would they want to?
The tragic reality of this story is that the bottom line for Iasis Healthcare wasn’t providing the best possible care for patients, but instead it came down to beating the competition out of town.
Iasis Healthcare Moves into Town
The story starts in Mesa, Arizona, where a hospital – Mesa General Hospital – operated for a number of years.
In early 2007, Iasis Healthcare moved into the area and opened up a brand new hospital – Mountain Vista Medical Center. The company owned Mesa General, and with the new hospital in place, the plan was to eventually close Mesa General Hospital.
With local community patients in mind, Drs. Robert M. Siegel and his wife Barbara decided to work with the landlord of the hospital to run specialty cardiac services at the former Mesa General building. The new specialty clinic called Apache Junction Hospital.
For years, the Doctors had already been providing services at the hospital, leasing lab space from the hospital, so the transition to the new setup was fairly simple – at least that’s what the husband and wife team thought. Little did they know that Iasis Healthcare would not play fair in their dealings with the two doctors and their clinic.
Iasis Healthcare Refuses to Pay Doctors
Once the Iasis hospital opened operation 15 miles away, the organization decided to end their contract with the two doctors, in the hope of driving them out of business and out of town. Iasis could not afford to have specialty cardiac services located in Mesa, in direct competition with the new hospital.
Iasis and the associated hospitals refused to pay the doctors for services that the doctor’s had rendered in the past. This meant that even though the doctors had served patients, and the patients had sent in money for those services to the hospital, the healthcare organization refused to issue checks for the Doctor’s portion of those payments.
In effect, Iasis Healthcare and the hospitals were attempting to financially pressure the doctors to shut down their operation in Mesa, at the detriment of local patients, who would then have to travel to the new hospital to receive those medical services.
To make matters worse, according to Dr. Siegel, even though the two doctors had offered to purchase the assets and lease space they were formerly using to serve patients, after the hospital closure, Iasis healthcare started to destroy the property rather than sell them off to the two doctors.
The healthcare company even attempted extortion when the two doctors were trying to purchase or lease the closed hospital – Iasis made one of the terms of the contract that the two doctors would have to forgive all debt they were owed for the services they performed in the past.
In other words, Iasis wanted to keep the money patients had paid for the services the doctors had delivered.
Respecting Bottom Line Over Patients
The firm representing the two doctors made it clear just how unscrupulous Iasis was being in a recent press release:
“So Iasis got paid for medical services performed by Dr. Siegel and then for years they refused to pay Dr. Siegel. Hardly the conduct of a community hospital focused on quality community medical services. We appreciate that the arbitrators saw how Iasis, Mesa General, and St. Luke’s continuously breached their obligations to our clients. In their continuing refusal to pay for services they had received and their interference with Dr. Siegel’s efforts to provide quality community-based medical services … I can’t imagine how these people ever thought their behavior was fair and ethical, much less, legal.”
These sort of situations are a perfect example of why healthcare run by private corporations do not work. Whenever the bottom line becomes a higher priority than the health and welfare of the local community, there is no way for the patient to come out on top.Originally published on TopSecretWriters.com