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ER building boom is wrong prescription, critics say

The Seattle Times, November 28, 2011

Hospitals throughout the Puget Sound region are in the midst of a boom, building spiffy new free-standing emergency rooms and entire hospital towers with expanded ERs, and drastically remodeling existing ones. The ER building boom has prompted a backlash from some lawmakers and advocates of affordable health care, who complain that nearly all Washington hospitals get substantial tax breaks and construction financing through tax-exempt bonds. Free-standing ERs, these critics charge, are cash cows for hospitals, strategically built in affluent areas to lure busy, well-insured patients and collect fat reimbursements.