A few weeks ago, I got a press release and a follow-up call about a small hospital in Texas, 107-bed Cleveland Regional Medical Center, that boasted of the fact that the hospital's new owner had lowered its price for medical services by 15% effective immediately. Bravo, I thought, you changed prices for services that almost nobody pays full price for, and for those who do, they're already paying lots more than their counterparts with insurance. So I initially declined the opportunity to speak with the hospital's CEO, Patrick Ayers, about the program. But in an effort to determine whether there was anything but puffery surrounding the so-called price cut, I changed my mind.
So we talked. And while the price decrease remains of little interest, the company behind the hospital is intriguing.
First off, Ayers admitted to some PR puffery regarding the press release. "Nothing we're doing is revolutionary," he says. "This is the first step we're taking, but it obviously won't greatly affect anyone with Medicare, Medicaid, or private insurance."
It also won't greatly affect self-pay patients either. But it will help some, Ayers argues.
It has always bothered Ayers that in the hospital industry, "they refer to people who are private pay with a sneer."