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Mergers of for-profit and non-profit hospitals raise questions

USA Today/Kaiser Health News, July 13, 2010

 

The Detroit Medical Center and its network of eight hospitals have served as a safety net for thousands of poor patients throughout southeastern Michigan. So when its pending sale to a for-profit hospital system was announced in March, there were mixed reactions about the impact on the safety net. Cash-poor non-profit hospitals, unable to borrow money for needed improvements in facilities and equipment, are eagerly seeking for-profit suitors. And for-profit hospital companies and investment firms — eyeing the improving economy and the expected influx of millions more insured Americans as a result of the new federal health overhaul law — see opportunity in the non-profit sector. But the transactions are also reigniting a long-running debate: Are the deals good for patients, or do they result in an overemphasis on profits that poses a threat to the quality of care?