Downsize hospital, repeal parcel tax

Editor:
The homeowners in the city of Alameda are likely not aware that effective Jan. 1 Alameda Hospital no longer accepts Anthem Blue Cross, Blue Shield, Aetna and United Healthcare insurance. This affects nearly 90 percent of Alamedans.

Statistics (as of 2013) show Kaiser held 42 percent of the market share for health insurance, followed by Anthem Blue Cross (20 percent), Blue Shield (15 percent), Aetna (5 percent) and United Healthcare (5 percent). This means 87 percent of the insured population cannot use Alameda Hospital for basic services.

This percentage may be even greater since the implementation of Obamacare in January 2014, when health insurance coverage became mandatory and privately purchased insurance likely fell to these top five insurance carriers, predominately Kaiser and Anthem Blue Cross.

Without insurance coverage at Alameda Hospital, basic care including X-rays, routine imaging and hospital admittance must be performed at other facilities outside Alameda. One can only imagine the frustration many Alameda physicians and their patients experience when they are unable to receive essential procedures at Alameda Hospital.

In 2002, the residents of Alameda voted to pass a parcel tax in order to subsidize a hospital that was no longer financially viable. In late 2013, due to ongoing financial problems, Alameda Hospital joined Alameda Health System, an integrated health system that manages nine facilities in Alameda County. Lack of financial support is likely related to a decline in health-care ratings. A survey conducted by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services published in October 2015, showed Alameda Hospital ranked the 25th lowest among 298 hospitals surveyed in California. Alameda Hospital scored 2 stars out of 5.

Alameda property owners subsidize Alameda Hospital to the tune of $7 million each year for a facility most of the population can no longer use. While Alameda Hospital cannot deny emergency care to any patient (emergency services will be covered with a non-contracted insurer), the public should no longer subsidize the hospital. Alameda Health Systems receives support and subsidies from Alameda County but it has allowed Alameda Hospital to deteriorate in terms of quality and fiscal viability.

It may be that additional insurance contracts for Alameda Hospital could be added in the future but it’s clear that taxpayers should not be supporting a broken system. Since January, Alameda Hospital has become an extremely expensive emergency services facility for nearly 90 percent of Alamedans. 

The fiscally responsible solution is down-size the hospital to an acute-care facility. Each parcel owner has contributed $4,200 over the past 14 years to fund a broken system. It is time to repeal the $298 parcel tax!

 

Ann and Joe Wlad