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Howard officials OK hospital merger with Community

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The merger of Kokomo’s Howard Regional Health System into Indianapolis-based Community Health Network received final approval Tuesday night when the Howard County Board of Commissioners and County Council voted unanimously for the affiliation of the hospitals.

The integration will take effect July 1, when the Kokomo hospital will change its name to Community Howard Regional Health, according to Community spokeswoman Lynda de Widt.

The two hospital systems signed a letter of intent to merge back in January, less than four months after Howard Regional broke off a merger deal with Indiana University Health.

Howard and Community officials said at that time the decision was driven by “dramatic changes” spurred by the 2010 federal health reform law.

The letter of intent called for Howard Regional to join its finances with Community’s, yet retain a local board with at least two-thirds of its members living in Howard or contiguous counties.

Indianapolis-based Community Health has similar affiliations with Community Hospital of Anderson and with Westview Hospital in Indianapolis.

A year ago, Howard Regional announced that it would merge with Indianapolis-based IU Health, in large part because deteriorating employment in the Kokomo area had pinched the hospital’s operating margins. But, in October, the two hospitals called off that deal—although they promised to continue to work together.

Indianapolis-based hospitals—including Community, IU Health and St. Vincent Health—have been active in acquiring county-owned hospitals throughout Indiana. These smaller hospitals say they need help recruiting physicians, particularly specialists, as well as help in bearing the costs of sophisticated electronic medical record systems, which the federal government is now effectively mandating.

The Indianapolis hospitals also are interested in securing a steady stream of patients to support their flagship campuses, as well as earning profits at outlying hospitals.

 

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  1. You are correct that Obamacare requires health insurance policies to include richer benefits and protects patients who get sick. That's what I was getting at when I wrote above, "That’s because Obamacare required insurers to take all customers, regardless of their health status, and also established a floor on how skimpy the benefits paid for by health plans could be." I think it's vital to know exactly how much the essential health benefits are costing over previous policies. Unless we know the cost of the law, we can't do a cost-benefit analysis. Taxes were raised in order to offset a 31% rise in health insurance premiums, an increase that paid for richer benefits. Are those richer benefits worth that much or not? That's the question we need to answer. This study at least gets us started on doing so.

  2. *5 employees per floor. Either way its ridiculous.

  3. Jim, thanks for always ready my stuff and providing thoughtful comments. I am sure that someone more familiar with research design and methods could take issue with Kowalski's study. I thought it was of considerable value, however, because so far we have been crediting Obamacare for all the gains in coverage and all price increases, neither of which is entirely fair. This is at least a rigorous attempt to sort things out. Maybe a quixotic attempt, but it's one of the first ones I've seen try to do it in a sophisticated way.

  4. In addition to rewriting history, the paper (or at least your summary of it) ignores that Obamacare policies now must provide "essential health benefits". Maybe Mr Wall has always been insured in a group plan but even group plans had holes you could drive a truck through, like the Colts defensive line last night. Individual plans were even worse. So, when you come up with a study that factors that in, let me know, otherwise the numbers are garbage.

  5. You guys are absolutely right: Cummins should build a massive 80-story high rise, and give each employee 5 floors. Or, I suppose they could always rent out the top floors if they wanted, since downtown office space is bursting at the seams (http://www.ibj.com/article?articleId=49481).

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