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HEALTH: TASC’s closure a loss for consumers

Letter by David R. Dawson, M.D., Tacoma on Oct. 2, 2012 at 12:47 pm | No Comments »
October 3, 2012 2:47 pm

Re: “Surgery center closes in Tacoma” (TNT, 9-29).

Tacoma just lost a high-quality outpatient surgery provider. TASC opened in 1982 and provided outpatient surgical services to the Tacoma community at about a third of the cost of hospital centers. More than 60,000 surgical procedures performed during this time provided an estimated cost savings of over $180 million.

The staff at TASC, always its strong point, was confirmed by a recent review by a court-appointed patient care ombudsman, who found that TASC had a 96.7 percent patient satisfaction rating compared to 68 percent and 66 percent at the two major local hospitals and to the 66 percent across the state as measured by the HCAHPS (Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems).

No decline in the quality of care occurred during the bankruptcy, according to the ombudsman, and “it is apparent that TASC provides the highest quality same-day surgery care in its market. If TASC is removed from the market, the patients would likely receive lower quality of care from the remaining players.”

Hard economic times, an expensive lease and the two major local hospital groups buying up independent surgeon practices to control market share and prepare for mandated government programs were the keys to eventual failure.

Despite the fact that TASC saved Regence approximately $1 million per year, Regence (the leasor) rejected any rent reduction from $36,000 per month. Regence currently holds an extra $1 billion in reserves. If Regence leased the space for nothing it would have saved itself and consumers more than $500,000 per year.

TASC thanks the community for all its support.

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