Our decision to seek an alignment strategy with St. Luke’s came out of the recognition that a close affiliation was the best way to achieve the changes we thought were necessary to address the future. The model of healthcare delivery we were engaged in has been fragmented and focused on the fee-for-service model of care that Judge B. Lynn Winmill, in his recent ruling, cited as being “the leading factor in increasing health care costs.” St. Luke’s has made significant strides in developing a model for the future to achieve the goals of better health, better care, and lower cost.
With the alignment, we started working with St. Luke’s on adopting this model. We believe health care must change. The movement across the entire country has been to find ways to improve care and reduce cost and is part of the law implemented through the Affordable Care Act.
In his written decision, Judge Winmill said that “St. Luke’s is to be applauded for its efforts to improve the delivery of health care in the Treasure Valley,” and that “The Acquisition was intended by St. Luke’s and Saltzer primarily to improve patient outcomes. The Court is convinced that it would have that effect if left intact.”
Judge Winmill also stated that changes in healthcare delivery must occur; we agree, and felt this was the best way to achieve these needed changes in our community.
Unfortunately, the decision will delay or possibly prevent us from being at the forefront of improving health care for our beloved patients in the Treasure Valley. Saltzer has always been dedicated to caring for our patients’ health and we have prided ourselves in placing our patients first. We have never been afraid of taking risks to provide that care.
We hope we can overcome this decision by the court and be a part of the changes we feel are necessary for the future, but we are concerned that the decision, if upheld in the appeals process, will require us to focus back on the fee-for-service business and will prevent us from continuing the expanded care we have been able to provide for the underinsured patient population with St. Luke’s support. This is unfortunate, because caring for patients in the lower-cost office environment is significantly better than seeing these patients in the expensive emergency room setting where they otherwise wind up.
Every member of our team wishes to thank all of our patients who allow us the privilege of providing care for them, and every member of their families. We pledge to continue to seek ways to provide the best care we can. Our hope is that our efforts to continually improve that care will be recognized by the courts and government agencies as we move forward.
Dr. Kaiser is the President of Saltzer Medical Group