Reader: Clarion editorial off the mark

Posted: Thursday, September 02, 2010

If the proposed sale of our hospital isn't confusing enough already, the Clarion's Sunday editorial (Aug. 29) ices the cake.

First, the Clarion's editorial says LHP, our hospital's proposed buyer, would "like to help Central Peninsula Hospital add new services." That's like saying Ford Motor Company's CEO would like to help Ford by adding new car models to the line. LHP is a for-profit corporation, and the corporate bottom-line is profit for the corporation's owners.

Second, the Clarion complains that "every major expansion the hospital wants to undertake must pass muster with the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly." But if LPH gets their way, every major expansion the hospital wants to make will have to pass muster with LPH's management. In that case, we would simply trade the politics of local preference for the politics of corporate profit.

Third, the Clarion says "private enterprises pay taxes." Indeed they do, and those tax payments come out of profits. As the Clarion says, our hospital's current revenues are about $140 million annually, and all that money stays in our area. If LPH buys controlling interest in our hospital, those profits will leave our area and be paid to the company's owners. Whatever taxes are paid will be paid out of the hospital's profits, profits that currently stay right here.

Fourth, the Clarion editorial claims the sale of our hospital is a "question of philosophy." Indeed it is, but not in the way the Clarion would like us to believe. That we, the citizens of the Kenai Peninsula Borough, own the physical plant of the hospital does not put government in the health care business -- that's hogwash. Physicians are in the health care business. That we, the citizens, own our hospital means nothing more than that we are willing and able to take care of ourselves without the help of an out-of-area, for-profit, healthcare management corporation.

There's no such thing as a free lunch, and the philosophical question facing area residents is whether we take care of ourselves or trust someone else to do it for us.

Our borough assembly should consider dissolving CPGH Inc. and installing a new board, elected by the public, to oversee both Central Peninsula Hospital and South Peninsula Hospital.

John Nelson, Soldotna

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