In an encore of The Business Beat, Steve D'Agostino, strategic partner of Susan Wagner PR + Best Rate of Climb, interviews Alan Sager, professor of health policy at and management at Boston University and director of BU’s Health Reform Program. They talk about why America's health-care system is sick - and how to heal it. This episode aired originally on September 22, 2013.
A familiar and legally challenged for-profit hospital chain has returned to Central Massachusetts. The 49-hospital Tenet Healthcare has agreed to repurchase Saint Vincent Hospital in Worcester and MetroWest Medical Center, with campuses in Framingham and Natick, plus the 26 other hospitals owned by another for-profit, Vanguard Health Systems, in a deal valued at $4.3 billion.
A decade-long legal cloud continues to cast a dark shadow over Tenet. One longtime expert on the local and national health-care market is Alan Sager of Boston University School of Public Health. Allowing Tenet to run hospitals on a for-profit basis, he maintains, is like letting the proverbial fox guard the chicken coop.
This would be the case, Sager says, if all of the requirements of a truly free and functioning marketplace existed in the health-care sector. But, he adds, America’s health-care system meets none of those requirements.
In the end, according to Sager, for-profits chains such as Tenet and their shareholders will continue to use “legal financial machinations” in order to prosper, with this market dysfunction driven by an “oversupply of money looking for high-return, safe investments.” In the meantime, many–if not most–consumers will remain quite confounded by America’s health-care system - and continue paying a steep price.