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Blue Cross: Minnesota Hospital Boom Favors a Few Specialties

A Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota study that shows a continued pattern of growth among Minnesota hospitals, focused in a few specialties.

�Metropolitan hospital facilities are continuing to expand and build at a fast pace, especially for specialties like cardiac care,� said Michael Morrow, senior vice president of business development and network management for Blue Cross. �More public discussion is needed by all affected parties regarding the kind and type of health care we want and need in Minnesota. We�re pleased to take this step to initiate this expanded dialogue.�

Blue Cross, the state�s largest insurer, has asked the Citizens League, a non-profit, independent public policy group, to create an expert study panel from all stakeholders, conduct independent research, involve citizens, and come up with recommendations for addressing hospital capacity issues. The intent of the study is to present information on hospital expansion and encourage broader public discussion of the issues related to expansion. �As a community, we have the opportunity to build the health care system we want, but we need broader community input to define and support that vision,� Morrow said.

�Healthcare is a critical public policy issue for Minnesotans,� said Sean Kershaw, president of the Citizens League. �Minnesota depends on high quality healthcare to sustain our high quality of life and we can�t allow rapidly increasing costs to put either of these in jeopardy. The Citizens League is excited by the opportunity to be part of the solution in looking at this issue. Blue Cross� work sets the stage for a larger effort to engage citizens and other stakeholders in this effort.

The Blue Cross study released today, called �Hospital Expansion in Minnesota: Is Growth Worth the Cost?� inventoried expansion plans since 2002 and benchmarked Minnesota hospitals against national averages.

Key findings of the report:

* One-third of Minnesota�s hospitals are growing. The report cited 56 of 148 Minnesota hospitals are planning or conducting new building or expansion projects since 2002 totaling $1.57 billion, continuing a sharp upward trend. The majority of expansion projects are in the Twin Cities metropolitan area.
* Much of the expansion occurs in a few specialties, for which Minnesota already exceeds the national average. For example, Minnesota has 28 percent more cardiac intensive care beds than the national average and yet 40 percent fewer psychiatric beds than the national average.

�We can make better informed decisions about the kind of hospital care we build so that it will result in higher quality, lower prices and better access,� Morrow said. �But it will take all of us working together for the benefit everyone.�

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Posted by: Duncan Kinder on Jul 30, 05 | 12:43 am | Profile


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