Today is the first day the citizens of Dekalb county Georgia will no longer be able to utilize the services of Dekalb General Emergency Room. As of July 1, 2007 the ER is closed.
The nearest trauma center is at least 20 minutes away at Grady Hospital.
So why is the ER closed at Dekalb General?
Too many non-paying patients, not enough revenue.
So what does this mean for Grady?
More business. Only one problem.
Grady is losing $4M per month. They are expected to need $120M to make up for deficits and bridge them over to next year.
But Grady is not the only ER in danger. There are others like Prince George County in Maryland and St. Vincents in New York.
So what is the problem? Why are hospitals dropping dead in the ER? Where is the life support for our hospitals?
Some are calling for more funding. Suggesting general tax revenues from the state or even federal money be used to shore up these departments that are bleeding profusely. One even went so far as to comment in the Atlanta Journal Constitution that the state of Georgia take $120M of their surplus funds to bail out Grady Hospital.
OK, then what?
Throw more money at it and the problem will just go away?
Next year the same problem will be back.
The same people who say more funding is needed to save Grady are the same ones who say the government needs to implement a national health care system. They claim the insurance carriers add 30% or more in administrative waste (although they never document this figure) and profits.
So what happens if you turn it over to the government and actually DO save 30%. What happens next year when the underlying costs (the costs associated with health care delivery) increase by 20%? How much did you really SAVE if you do not address the root cause?
Same thing with Grady and every other ER in trouble.
Throwing more money at it is not the solution.
Making those who receive services responsible for paying their bills is a start.