Health Care Leaders Say New Medical District Will Not Drive Up Costs
By Jillian Petrus, Reporter
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - The rising cost of health care has been a contested issue this election season.
Just two years ago the Institute for Healthcare Improvement recognized Cedar Rapids as a city that has affordable, quality care.
But will that change with the city's development of a medical district? Typically, we think of competition as a good thing in any business market. However, health care experts say that's not always the case, particularly when you have a lot of competition in a small area.
So, can this new medical district fit into the community without overwhelming it?
Project leaders say it can.
"I think each of us as providers are trying to turn our attention to how are we actively trying to drive the cost of care down," said Ted Townsend, CEO of St. Luke's Hospital and Board Chair with the Self Supporting Municipal Improvement District. "The medical district is all about creating an attractive experience for people to get their health care in Cedar Rapids."
The medical district will take up 50-square blocks and includes St. Luke's Hospital, Mercy Medical Center and the Physicians clinic of Iowa.
"We're a perfect community for this," said CEO of Mercy Medical Center, Tim Charles. "The fact that you have two major medical complexes this close together allows us to do something that many communities of our size would only dream of doing."
But as recently as 2011, area cancer treatment facilities questioned the "over saturation" of certain specialized medical services offered in Cedar Rapids. Centers in Waterloo, Iowa City and Mercy Medical asked that St. Luke's be denied a "Certificate of Need" to purchase a piece of equipment used for radiation treatments. The various centers stated they felt the tool would be an unnecessary duplication of services already provided by their facilities.
However, Cedar Rapids health care leaders maintain that the new medical district will not drive up health care costs. The goal, they say, is not to compete but instead create a selling point for the city.
"We're much more about trying to all be on the same team even as competitors to try and attract people to our community," said Townsend, "We wan to make this as great of an experience for people as they can have."
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