Is Good Sam going bad?

Long-time readers of this blog know that I am no fan of the suits who run Oregon Health & Science University. If it's not a scandal up there, it's a scam. Can you say "aerial tram"? The atmosphere at the top of  that institution has always seemed pretty unhealthy. And that's what the public finds out about; you can imagine what's under the rug.

Maybe the worst aspect of the place is that they act like a public body when they want to be, but a private company when it suits them better. Their murky legal status dates back to the era when Neil Goldscmidt ran everything in Oregon. And the big, fat, largely unsupervised pot of money up on Pill Hill was his baby, all the way, before everyone found out what kind of guy he was.

One wicked part of the "public" side of OHSU is that state law puts a cap on at least some of its malpractice liability. If you get butchered on an operating table or in an exam room up there, you may not be able to collect your full damages. That gives OHSU an advantage over other, purely private, health care providers.

And so it's not happy news that the OHSU empire is about to expand greatly, as it is about to swallow up the Legacy Health system, which operates all sorts of medical facilities including Emanuel and Good Samaritan Hospitals in Portland. I've been a satisfied Legacy patient for a while now, and I'm not at all looking forward to being pushed into the OHSU system by the planned merger, which was announced late last week.

But it's a necessity, we're told, because Legacy is going broke. Geez Louise, how can that be? Given how much the health care industry gets away with charging for everything – $15 for a Tylenol – how can Legacy lose enough money to have to go out of business? It reminds me of Donald Trump bankrupting his casino.

Anyway, pretty soon Portlanders may have one fewer hospital organization to choose from, and the places they used to go for doctors may suddenly have limited malpractice liability. That can't be good for the consumers.

But to whom can you complain? The Oregon Health Authority, notoriously toxic and ineffective itself? Or your representatives in the state legislature? Sure, give Lew Frederick and Tawna Sanchez a call. I'm sure they're right on top of this.

I'll keep watching nervously as the details of the proposed deal unfold. And the next time I see my doctor, I'll ask him what he thinks. But it might be one more reason to get out of Dodge pretty soon, as if there weren't enough reasons already.


  1. The fiscal health of Good Sam and Emanuel should rank as among the most important issues to our community. I’d think the print media would give it more than a passing comment.

  2. Print media is more interested in pronouns and making sure junkies can access enough junk.

  3. There is no "healthcare" business. It is disease treatment. They do not care about your health, only how to treat you with Big Pharma products- that may or may not kill you in the process. Chemo therapy has a 98% failure rate (even if it works for a bit).

    1. Went through Chemo two decades ago. Follow up drugs are expensive. Hopefully, I can look forward to another productive decade or so. Big pharma worked for me.

  4. "Legacy is going broke" and they're not the last ones. The warning sign is on the wall for organizations like Providence, and all institution around town with ever increasing labor expenses. Providence is hemorrhaging money, in the 2nd quarter they lost $345 million, which was better than the $510 million the year prior in the same quarter. They're sitting on only $2 billion in cash and $7 billion in other investments. It's a ticking clock to merger and acquisition. Honestly my biggest concern is that an acquisition will be result in "redundancies" and closing down core hospitals in the area.


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