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Q&A: Scripps CEO on Strategic Appeal of a Regional Medical Center

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, November 6, 2013

HLM: Why did you do this? What's in it for Scripps?

CVG: Actually El Centro reached out to over 30 organizations. I have no idea who else they approached but I know they reached out to others in San Diego… we are the largest metropolitan area near Imperial County and the hospitals out there.

These days it is going to be extremely difficult, if not impossible, for a freestanding hospital to survive and develop the necessary infrastructures around accountable care and economies of scale and everything that is going to be required in the future. They recognized that they were going to need to reach out and they did.

For us, we have been preparing for growth for the last decade and we also recognize that to gain economies of scale and meet patient needs from an accountable care perspective and a population health basis we need to grow.

HLM: The hospital is on the border with Mexico and the community has high numbers of uninsured. Why would you take this on?

CVG: I would reverse that and say that it is obvious that they need a quality healthcare organization to help them. We have that capability. Scripps Health right now has the closest hospital to the border in San Diego so we are very familiar with handing cross-border issues and dealing with what can be a challenging payer mix.

Anybody who is an American citizen is going to be required to have insurance of one kind or another under the Affordable Care Act, so we fully anticipate that a lot of the people there will have one form or insurance or another. They will still have the undocumented issue. But from our perspective we are a community health provider with an excellent tertiary care capability and our job is to meet the healthcare needs of our communities. This is an expansion of what we define as our community.

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