Local physician makes request to Unicoi Hospital board on behalf of Qualucare

8:36 am | October 4, 2012

Arnold Hopland, BSEE, MBA, PE, MD, Founding Partner of Medical Care PLLC, Elizabethton

To the editor,

There will be a public meeting tonight, Oct. 4, in Unicoi County to discuss the possible sale of the hospital by its board of directors.

I represent the Qualucare accountable care organization, which consists of approximately 800 physicians in East Tennessee. We want to buy the hospital in Unicoi County.

The Unicoi County Memorial Hospital board of directors has a fiduciary responsibility to the owners which can result in personal liability if that responsibility is breached. No request for proposal or due diligence has been performed regarding the proposed sale to Mountain States Health Alliance. The community bulletin board at TriCities.com is covered with negative comments regarding such a sale and the board should review this public opinion prior to any insider deals.

Monopoly eliminates competition, which causes improvement in quality and price of goods and services. Laws outlawing monopoly were passed in the early 20th century when those abuses became rampant, but medicine was ignored as medical services were provided by charitable organizations without profit motive. There is a misunderstanding by many that nonprofit means charitable. It simply means WE PAY NO TAXES. Advertising campaigns about “loving care” are laughable.

MSHA isn’t even pretending to purchase the Unicoi County hospital. They simply want to purchase the hospital’s Certificate of Need so no competitor can provide medical services to Unicoi County businesses and residents. To the board, see if you can get an offer for purchase with the provision that MSHA will support a second Certificate of Need to provide competitive medical care to this population.

We ask the Unicoi hospital board to submit a request to Qualucare ACO.

If you do allow us to submit a proposal, we can lower the cost of medical care to the Erwin/Unicoi area. Residents and businesses will have access to the largest group of primary care and specialist physicians in East Tennessee. Erwin and Unicoi County and local business will continue to have local input. Financial risk to the current hospital organization will be removed.

There will be a significant increase in local tax revenue from the Qualucare organization, which will not dodge local taxes. Also, there will be a large cash flow to develop Unicoi County Memorial Hospital with comprehensive liabilities. We will provide patient-centered, physician-directed care.

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