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    Wide gap in payment rates to providers

    The Legislative process is never simple, but I was alarmed to read last Sunday about the erosion of political will on Beacon Hill to address one of the biggest drivers of health care costs — the high prices commanded by providers with clout based on their size and name (“Health cost bill may not attack key problem,” Page A1).

    Some hospitals are paid excessively higher prices for no reason beyond the name above their door. Voluntary reductions in the payment increases received by the highest-paid providers are more about marketing than reform. By cutting their increases, these providers can say they cut costs while still being nearly twice as expensive as their competitors, as is the case when comparing Boston Children’s Hospital and Floating Hospital for Children.

    It is remarkable that Children’s Hospital is paid 75 to 100 percent more for exactly the same procedure or diagnosis as is available at Floating Hospital, where care is given by equally well-trained pediatricians and nurses. Allowing such wide disparities in payment rates to continue does not make health care better; it just makes it more expensive.

    Dr. John Schreiber


    The writer is pediatrician in chief and chief administrative officer at the Floating Hospital for Children at Tufts Medical Center.