Idaho Dispatch

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Op-Ed: Hospitals deserve blame for ‘crisis standards of care’

By • September 30, 2021

Note: The following Op-Ed was submitted by Wayne Hoffman, President of the Idaho Freedom Foundation. Op-Eds do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of those at the Idaho Dispatch.

By Wayne Hoffman

Don’t blame the unvaccinated for the activation of the state’s “crisis standards of care” at Idaho’s hospitals. Blame the state’s big hospitals.

Going back to the 1980s, Idaho had close to four hospital beds for every 1,000 residents. Today, the state has slightly more than two beds per 1,000 residents. This isn’t just an Idaho problem. It’s one that U.S. hospitals have been facing for decades.

Idaho’s hospital system has been weighed down by the state’s explosive population growth and bad decisions by the system’s biggest players, including decades of support for government programs that drive patients through the hospital doors.

By 2012, Idaho had 3,559 hospital beds, according to records from the state’s Department of Health and Welfare. By the end of 2019, Idaho’s hospital bed count had grown by 6% from 2012’s levels, while the state’s population grew by almost 12% over the same period.

Such an uptick in residents might have been manageable had the hospitals not insisted on more government-run healthcare. After Congress passed Obamacare a decade ago, hospitals and their allies in the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry were at the forefront of trying to expand Medicaid. They got their wish in 2018 when voters bought the now-painfully-obvious con that Idaho would get the program for free.

Medicaid expansion has had a well-documented negative impact on hospital utilization throughout the country. The Foundation for Government Accountability’s research shows how states that expanded Medicaid saw a reduction in hospital capacity while states that did not expand Medicaid were able to increase bed capacity. The IFF’s Fred Birnbaum has written extensively about the consequences Medicaid has had on state spending, noting the so-called “experts” grossly underestimated the program’s utilization by 53%.

If the increase in hospital utilization had an impact on the number of hospital beds at Boise’s largest hospitals, the data don’t show it. Saint Alphonsus had 387 beds in 2012. By July 2020, the hospital had actually reduced the number of available beds to 362. It maintained that number through July 2021. Over the same period, revenue at Saint Al’s nearly doubled.

Records show St. Luke’s had 536 beds in 2012, 605 in July 2020, and 604 in July 2021. Just as with Saint Alphonsus, St. Luke’s has seen a near doubling of its revenue over the last decade.

Moreover, the appearance of COVID-19 did little to change the availability of hospital beds in Idaho. In November 2019, Idaho had 3,783 beds. By summer of 2020, the hospitals statewide listed 3,817 beds, an increase of less than 1%.

Despite the strain on the system, both major hospitals threatened to fire employees who refused the COVID-19 vaccine. And while St. Luke’s recently sent around a memo claiming that no one has been fired for not being forcibly penetrated with a COVID needle, some number of employees have reportedly quit because of the mandate. An unstaffed hospital bed is basically a bed that can’t be used.

It’s convenient for the media and medical profession to point fingers at the unvaccinated for hospitals being at capacity. But the full story reveals the significant role the hospitals themselves played in getting us here. Not enough beds to begin with, demand for more government healthcare, lack of buildout once COVID hit, and unreasonable demands on employees also contributed significantly to creating the crisis at hand.


Tags: Covid-19, Fred Birnbaum, Hospitals, Idaho Freedom Foundation, Vaccine, Wayne Hoffman

5 thoughts on “Op-Ed: Hospitals deserve blame for ‘crisis standards of care’

  1. My unvaccinated patients are turned away when they try to get early treatment. They wait until these people are so sick they need critical care. Then they admit them! What a racket!! Early treatment would keep the majority of all people out of the hospital! And I’m not getting vaxxed because I’M NOT AT RISK BECAUSE ALL PEOPLE DO NOT HAVE THE SAME RISK. Don’t tell me you know more than I do- You DON’T

  2. The Hospitals Bureaucracies need to be flushed. Bad Managers Fired.
    The Hospitals need to begin actual healthcare, not following WHO, CDC, FDA, or State/Federal Governmental Idiot’s Mandates or Directives.
    The Hospitals need to be for profit, their non-profit status removed.
    The Hospitals need to listen to Staff and Patients from now on.
    The Hospitals are in dire straits because they have long lost the ability to provide Healthcare.
    Listen to your Staff, and then tell the upper management to shove it!
    Patient advocacy is a must, encourage this now.

  3. At Saint Alphonsus, we kept getting emails from our leadership begging the staff to to contact our gov’t leaders to pass legislation to get monies to support the hospitals when the chinese virus first came and then stayed. The hospitals, we were told, were running out of money. Then the emails stopped … and the vax mandate began. It’s obvious the hospitals are selling out to the gov’t and getting a “kickback” once they can prove the staff is vaxed or exempted. So, now, they are begging unvaxed staff to stay a while longer during this crisis while making it clear they will have to get vaxed at a later date. The staff that left has already gone & have found other jobs. They are not coming back, so we pay travelers and incentivize overtime, and I wonder how that is being paid?

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