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Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Carilion Makes The News

News that Southwest Virginia's largest health care provider would rather not be news:
The Lucrative Life of a Nonprofit Hospital
By Jacob Goldstein, The Wall Street Journal

Nonprofit medical centers are big business these days. Carilion Health System, in Virginia’s Roanoke Valley, had profits of more than $100 million last year, this morning’s WSJ reports.

Carilion is Roanoke’s dominant health-care player, and it charges high prices for some procedures — $4,727 for a colonoscopy, which is four to 10 times what a local endoscopy center charges, the article says. The area now has some of the highest health-insurance costs in the state.

Critics say big medical centers like Carilion use near-monopoly power to charge high prices; Carilion says it needs to charge more for some procedures to subsidize other parts of its business, such as care for the uninsured. And the hospital says an HCA-owned hospital in a nearby town offers competition.

Carilion has recently started buying up local medical practices in an effort to move to a multispecialty-clinic model. The hospital CEO says this arrangement will cut down on fragmentation and improve care.

But the move has alienated hundreds of local docs, who circulated a petition and launched a Web site. Those who haven’t sold their practices to the hospital say they’ve seen their referrals plummet. (link)

My my. I wonder if these people know they're playing right into the hands of the nationalized health care fanatics.

And The Related News Item ...

... in yesterday's Wall Street Journal:
Nonprofit Hospitals Flex Pricing Power
By John Carreyrou, The Wall Street Journal

Roanoke, Va. -- In 1989, the U.S. Department of Justice tried but failed to prevent a merger between nonprofit Carilion Health System and this former railroad town's other hospital. The merger, it warned in an unsuccessful antitrust lawsuit, would create a monopoly over medical care in the area.

Nearly two decades later, the cost of health care in the Roanoke Valley -- a region in southwestern Virginia with a population of 300,000 -- is soaring. Health-insurance rates in Roanoke have gone from being the lowest in the state to the highest. (link)
Those of you who are Carilion customers (I'm one too) might want to read the whole article. There's little you can do about your circumstance, but ...

* Note: The Roanoke Times is all over the story too.

This Raises A Question

NoVa may be heading towards a big, big problem. Power outages. Why? Well, the more immediate answer is because a couple of judges in Pennsylvania have shot down the plan to have electricity brought into the D.C. suburbs from western PA via high voltage lines:
Across State Lines
Washington Post editorial

It's not just Northern Virginia's roads that are gridlocked. The region's power lines are becoming increasingly overloaded, and blackouts are likely by 2011. A proposal that would bring cheaper electricity to Virginia while increasing the region's energy capacity is now threatened. Two Pennsylvania judges recommended last month that a key portion of a $1.3 billion power line between the two states not be built. If the recommendation becomes reality, Virginians should prepare for more expensive, less reliable electricity.

The judges got it right when they argued that the project places the burden for energy production in western Pennsylvania and the Midwest. But they failed to point out that these areas have a capacity for producing energy the Washington area lacks and that energy producers in those areas benefit because they get to sell electricity at higher prices. (link)
But this raises a question: Why does the Washington area lack the capacity for producing its own energy needs? Why rely on a series of plants hundreds of miles away for its electricity? Is it really a lack of capacity or a lack of foresight and judgment? Muddle-headedness? After all, other major cities have their own power generation plants. Why doesn't Arlington?

Could it be because that's where all of America's wacky environmentalists hang out? Those who choose to think electricity comes from that little doohickie in their condo's baseboard? Those who enjoy the comforts brought to them by the region's coal-fired power plants but who would rather die than have to look at those unsightly lines overhead that bring warmth in winter, cool in summer, and zap to their microwaves? Those who believe that the pollution that comes from the power plants they rely so heavily upon kills people, and who believe those plants should therefore be located in western PA, rural Maryland, and Southwest Virginia, where human life is of lesser significance?

What does Queens have that Fairfax doesn't, besides a poor neighborhood that can be leveled in order for a plant to be built, and a lack of enlightened geniuses who work to make their world a more beautiful place - at the expense of everyone else's?

Seems Right To Me

Can anyone argue with this?
Labor Day opens Virginia's political season
The Washington Times

Buena Vista, Va. - Republican James S. Gilmore III got right to the point, taking less than five minutes at a rally Monday to brand Democrat Mark Warner a debate-dodging tax-raiser who can't tell the truth. (link)
It is expected that the wildly popular debate-dodging tax-raiser who can't tell the truth is going to win handily in November. That says a lot about all involved.


If I recall, the mainstream press, early on, declared Chelsea Clinton to be off-limits during Bill's tenure in the White House. To them, and therefore to us, she didn't exist. And the mainstream press did an admirable job of adhering to its own dictum. Of course, Bill was a liberal Democrat, so ...

The New York Times:

"On Monday, Ms. Palin’s announcement of her daughter’s pregnancy was much of what people were murmuring about inside the halls ..."

The New York Post:

"The unwed, 17-year-old daughter of Republican vice-presidential hopeful Sarah Palin is pregnant - a revelation the Alaska governor made public yesterday to refute rumors ..."

The Washington Post:

"As I tried to make my way through St. Paul today – protesters managed to make driving, or even walking, anywhere pretty much impossible – people I ran into were asking one question: Is Sarah Palin doing what’s best for her daughter? This isn’t a sexist question. It would also be asked of a male politician in her position. Is it fair for any parent to put his or her pregnant, unmarried, 17-year-old daughter through the klieg-light scrutiny of a presidential campaign?"

[jf: Actually, in answer to your question, if I were her parent, I'd kick your ass for making it an issue in a nationally-read newspaper and for not leaving it alone like a decent person would]

The Washington Post:

"This is nothing against Palin. From what little we know about her, she seems to be a bright, attractive, impressive person. She certainly has been successful in her 44 years. But is she ready to be president? And now we learn the 17-year-old daughter, Bristol, is pregnant. She and the father of the child plan to marry. Of course, this can happen in any family. But it must certainly raise the question ...

The L.A. Times:

" ... the gossip dominated the day's talk after it flashed through this convention city, starting on BlackBerrys and then spreading rapidly on cable television and the Internet.

The Christian Science Monitor:

"Douglas Holtz-Eakin is ... John McCain’s top economic adviser ...

So what was the first question reporters asked Mr. Holtz-Eakin at a Sept. 1 Monitor lunch here?

Specifically, what did Holtz-Eakin have to say about the revelations that Governor Palin’s 17-year old daughter, Bristol, is five months pregnant and plans to keep the baby and marry the father?"

Chelsea Clinton. Bristol Palin. Nah, no double standard there.

This Is The Joe Biden We All Know

Scranton, PA -- This morning, Joe Biden said today was not a day for national politics. He said it again during a roundtable discussion outside his childhood home here this afternoon. But before long, he couldn’t help himself, criticizing McCain for his views on offshore drilling and questioning his foreign policy judgment.
Give the guy a break. He can't help it. His mouth has a mind of its own.

Did Someone Not Get The Memo?

It always amazes me when I see pictures like this one that was taken as Hurricane Gustav blew ashore in Louisiana. Someone left his or her car parked near the beach and had it swallowed up by the storm surge.

What, they parked there to go shopping and, next thing they knew, the sea rose 15 feet and the winds picked up to hurricane strength when they weren't looking?

What kind of numbskull leaves his car where it is sure to be destroyed?

Photo courtesy of Matt Drudge.