There was no joy whatsoever on New Year's Eve at Pacific Alliance Medical Center in Los Angeles. How could there be? The hospital - which was built not long after the Civil War and has provided care for more than 10,000,000 patients over its 150-year existence - closed and locked its front doors for the last time on November 30.
In a public statement, Pacific Alliance administration announced they lacked the financial ability needed to continue. And that was absolutely true.
Now, when they said they could not afford to retrofit the buildings necessary to meet
California's seismic standards as the reason for the closure - they were partly correct.
And, when they stressed that there was no logical way to collect $100,000,000 to build a hospital on land they do not own - they were also partially correct.
But in keeping with the maniacal mantra of medicine that permeates American healthcare, what Pacific Alliance administrators did stridently NOT discuss, is the fact that a huge aspect of their inability to stay in business was their owned damned fault. Why?
Last June Pacific Alliance and its parent company = PAMC Ltd - were ordered to pay a $42,000,000 government fine, after investigators revealed they had for years violated the Stark Law, (when doctors collect money from patients who actually are covered by governmental insurance} the False Claims Act and the Anti-Kickback Statute. In other words, these so-called pillars of the community, had routinely billed Medicare and California's Medicaid illegally, and curried sneaky financial relationships with a number of corrupt doctors, who also used and abused the system.
Sounds like a terrific example of medical ethics to us, how about you?
And when these sleazy characters got caught - the hospital had to pay up. It wasn't pocket change, it was $42,000,000 dollars. And guess what? THAT cost them the ability to do a few other things, at least one of which is to, oh, wait a moment till we think of it . . . TREAT SICK PEOPLE.
So how about it, Pacific Alliance administrators? As you clear out your plush offices, how about one last press release? A little 'healthcare honesty' would be refreshing.
And who knows? You might even sleep a little better, in the year 2018, when 638 folks start the new year with no job.