President's Message

Setting the Record Straight on Rising Health Care Costs

Happy 2024! I hope and trust that you had a wonderful holiday season with family and friends. As the year begins, I’d like to share an example of how, on top of financial and operational struggles, hospitals are also facing challenges to their public image.

In a December 11, 2023, Orange County Register column, “What’s Driving Up Healthcare Prices in California?,” the author mistakenly blames hospitals for the escalating costs without fully delving into the inquiry posed by the title. As a result, HASC believed it was imperative to respond to counteract misinformation and foster more accurate public discourse.

On December 26, 2023, the Orange County Register published an op-ed that I authored, “Rising Health Care Costs: Oversimplification of a Complex Issue.” Our intention is that this response will help set the record straight about the many factors, outside of hospitals’ direct control, that contribute to rising costs.

Hospitals are not mere cost centers; they’re lifelines for countless individuals and families. They are the backbone of health care delivery, offering critical medical care, emergency services and a safety net for the most vulnerable patients. They employ thousands of health care professionals, ensuring that people have access to medical expertise, while also driving local economies. In fact, the hospitals across HASC’s entire six-county region produce an estimated $120 billion in economic output each year.

One-dimensional portrayals such as the Dec. 11 column obscure the many positive contributions hospitals make to communities and foster incorrect perceptions of their role. To ensure a more accurate and informed narrative, it’s critical to recognize the complex interplay of factors affecting health care costs, as well as the invaluable services that hospitals provide.

This misconception of hospitals is an unfortunate reality that HASC encounters as we meet with stakeholders and policymakers. An important element of our increased local advocacy is our commitment to educating these individuals, who otherwise may not possess accurate information to make well-informed decisions on legislation directly impacting their constituents’ well-being.

The simple fact is that our hospitals remain undervalued and will remain under attack from various adversaries. As such, part of HASC’s mission is to empower decision makers and influencers with the knowledge and insights required to make thoughtful choices about the laws that determine the fate of our health care system, as well as the information they share with the public.

My aim is to keep you up to date about these ongoing advocacy and public relations efforts. Rest assured that HASC is always working on behalf of you, our hospital members.

Take care and stay safe.

George G.