Don Stumpp could not be more accurate in his [July 11 Focus column] when describing hospitals buying up medical practices. One other issue on which I would like to elaborate is the anti-competitive situation the hospitals have created for doctors and patients.
We have seen in many smaller towns, such as Muncie and Richmond, where only one hospital exists, rampantly acquiring physicians’ practices.
On several occasions I have spoken to these physicians before they sold their practice. They felt that they were being held hostage because the hospitals were negotiating the contracts for nearly every physician in their community.
There are many communities where this has happened, and the fear and reality of this monopolistic environment has only motivated physicians to sell their practices. In terms of the patients, it has diminished their choices.
If this occurred in other industries, these matters would be viewed as anti-competitive. Why has this industry been awarded the green light to shut down competition and encouraged under the supposition of improving health care?•
Keith Pitzele, president