Northeast Ohio's Top Health Executives Talk Costs

Crains Health Care Reporter Tim Magaw talks to a panel of Northeast Ohio health care executives.
Crains Health Care Reporter Tim Magaw talks to a panel of Northeast Ohio health care executives.

It was practically standing room only for 90 minutes inside a lakefront ballroom at Cleveland's convention center. Not surprisingly, the cost of health care generated a lot of discussion and highlighted some differences of opinion.

When Crain's Tim Magaw asked the panel whether consolidation amongst the region's hospitals would affect employers who buy health insurance, he could barely get the question out.

"Does this complicate their lives at all..." Magaw says.

"I think they're going to be spending more money on health care in the short term and less money in the long term," says Terrence Kessler, chief executive at one of the smaller health care providers - The Sisters of Charity Health System. Consolidation, he says, reduces competition and that drives up costs.

But no sooner did Kessler finish than the Cleveland Clinic's Dr. Toby Cosgrove jumped in.

"I'm sorry I gotta take the opposite approach to that."

Cosgrove pointed to the current climate of insurers cutting payments to hospitals and government programs setting stricter limits on their reimbursements.

"It's hard-pressed to think that we're going to be driving costs up in the community by consolidation," Cosgrove says.

While the largest health systems equate consolidation with efficiency; The smaller ones fear that the bigger hospital system, the more it will control the market.

Sarah Jane Tribble, 90.3

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