Friday, October 21, 2005

Aurora Raises the Costs, Again

Just when you thought that hospitalization costs couldn't get higher in SE Wisconsin (after all, we're 5th in the USA)--Aurora's massive ego and concomitant appetite for revenues overcomes restraint.

But don't you DARE ask where all these advertising dollars are coming from, or you'll get a whine and a non-sequitur response from the 800-pound canary:

"That's a curious comment from an organization that has spent millions in efforts to preserve its monopoly. The resulting lack of competition has hurt health care consumers in Waukesha County, many of whom have few options for care close to home."

Actually, Mr. Squire, "hurting consumers" comes from gouging them on health-care costs, not from driving 5 miles further.

From a local official:

Summit Town Chairman Len Susa has heard the radio ad and agrees with it. "I was in favor of the hospital. ... It's another health care provider, so it's another choice. It's free enterprise. Aurora has just as much of a right to be here as another gas station or another bank."

Of course, banks and gas stations don't cost $700 million apiece; and last I checked, the SuperAmerica attendant was not paid $65K/year to administer gasoline to cars.

Susa's "free enterprise" argument is flawed. He picked up this line from the Aurora folks, who managed to convince one of the local Radio Guys (Sykes) that "free enterprise" is the model.

Not quite. If it were "free enterprise," then anybody could buy health insurance which excludes Aurora's cost structure (after Children's Hospital, it's the most expensive in the area.) That would allow the consumer to make a "free choice."

The reality is that hospitals, and health-care in general, are really quasi-public utilities, paid for by the vast majority of the public, whether they use it or not, just like roads. Therefore, your health insurance costs could be considered a tax, just like the gasoline tax.

So when the Waukesha County Board decided that this is a public-policy matter, not "free enterprise," they were correct.

Mr. Howe could always choose to run McDonald's if he wants a building on every corner. At that time, he would find out what "Free Enterprise" is really all about--because McDonalds can only recover its costs from voluntary consumers--not involuntary rate-payers.

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