FTC Blocks Ohio Hospital Merger; Kan. Mental Hospital's 'Poor Working Conditions'

A summary of hospital news from Kansas, California, Wisconsin and Ohio.

The New York Times: Regulator Orders Hospitals To Undo A Merger In Ohio
The Federal Trade Commission has blocked an Ohio hospital merger in a closely watched case that could slow the consolidation of health care providers around the country. ... [the FTC] ruled that the merger of the ProMedica Health System and St. Luke’s Hospital would “substantially lessen competition” in the Toledo area, allowing the hospitals to charge higher prices. ... ProMedica had argued that the merger would advance the type of collaboration promoted by President Obama under the new health care law (Pear, 4/2).

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Hospital Performance Rewards Fail to Cut Death Rates
A six-year experiment that rewarded hospitals - including those in the Aurora Health Care system - for their performance on an array of quality measures did not lead to a decrease in mortality rates ...  Aurora's hospitals received $1.9 million in additional Medicare payments for achieving certain quality benchmarks during the program (Boulton, 4/2).

Earlier, related KHN story: Effort To Pay Hospitals Based On Quality Didn’t Cut Death Rates, Study Finds (Rau, 3/28)

Kansas Health Institute News: Accrediting Team Cites Problems At Larned State Hospital
A new inspection report on the state mental hospital here has underscored the severity of what has been a major problem at the facility for months and years: Because of the poor working conditions, state officials are having a hard time keeping doctors, nurses and others on the job (4/2). 

California Healthline: Community Rallies To Keep Kern Residency Program on Track
Zack Scrivner wasn't quite sure what to do. The chair of the Kern County Board of Supervisors was presiding over a meeting in Bakersfield to determine the direction of the Kern Medical Center family practice residency program, and there were just too many people there who wanted to say something. ... People from all over the county came to the meeting to express opposition to the cutback of the family practice residency program (Gorn, 4/2). 

Minneapolis Star Tribune: Tiny Sandstone. Minn., Fights For Its 25-Bed Hospital 
Civic leaders here are crying foul over what they view as a hostile takeover of one of Sandstone's most precious assets: a 25-bed hospital that has the only 24-hour emergency room and heliport for miles. Last fall, the citizens' board that controls the hospital's land and building served notice that it was essentially evicting the Duluth-based medical corporation Essentia Health, which had run the hospital for 15 years. Board members say they were frustrated that Essentia didn't want to expand or rebuild. ... The controversy comes as more of Minnesota's small, so-called "critical-access" hospitals like Sandstone's are being absorbed by health care corporations such as Mayo, Sanford and Essentia. And it's sparked debate about the purpose of the extra Medicare reimbursements such hospitals get (Oakes, 4/2).

Des Moines Register: Grassley Calls For Probe Of Iowa City VA Hospital
U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley is asking for a comprehensive investigation of the Iowa City Veterans Affairs Health Care System after his office received reports of "serious allegations" of patient care issues at the facility. In a March 7 letter to George Opfer, inspector general of the Department of Veterans Affairs, Grassley, R-Ia., said he had heard from people "concerned about the direction of the facility and its impact on patient care" (Schettler, 4/2).

This is part of Kaiser Health News' Daily Report - a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. The full summary of the day's news can be found here and you can sign up for e-mail subscriptions to the Daily Report here. In addition, our staff of reporters and correspondents file original stories each day, which you can find on our home page.