LEWISTOWN - The Concerned Physicians and Practitioners of Mifflin and Juniata Counties, a group opposed to the Lewistown Hospital merger with Geisinger Health System, met Tuesday evening to discuss concerns in response to the merger announcement.
In an effort to preserve the community's greatest asset and largest employer, the group said it would like the hospital to consider a number of issues before moving forward with Geisinger.
This has been a problem through the entire process, the group said. Though the staff and doctors were informed that a merger would happen, they have still not received any actual information regarding the effects of a merger, the group said.
Geisinger claims that they are going to keep and increase jobs at Lewistown Hospital, but with technological updates, a number of jobs will become redundant, the group said. Though these new processes might be more efficient, they will cause a large amount of job loss in the records and financial department, the group said.
The staff and physicians were told that a number of documents, including the proposals of merger from outside entities and the letter of intention would be made available, the group said. However, these promises still remain unmet, creating suspicion and uncertainty, the group said.
Joining with an entity that sells insurance as well as billing creates a health care monopoly in the community, the group said. Geisinger can increase the cost of using other insurances at the hospital and thus people and businesses would be forced into signing with Geisinger health insurance, the group said.
A number of procedures that are available in town are being under utilized, the group said. Patients are being sent to Danville or State College to Geisinger clinics by Geisinger doctors, the group said. Many times, patients are moved from Lewistown because of the referral procedure required by Geisinger insurance, the group said.
The expense of out-of-pocket copay costs are an ongoing issue right now, the group said. When Geisinger takes over, the copay amounts will escalate along with the service costs - another result of a health care monopoly, the group said.
A merger can only be approved with a majority vote from the Foundation of Lewistown Hospital, the group said. When they did the vote on the letter of intent, they did it by proxy, which is unethical, the group said. The group said it is afraid the board will try to approve the merger in the same way.
The Concerned Physicians and Practitioners of Mifflin and Juniata Counties declined to reveal its future plans, if any, in opposition to the merger.
Since October, the group has collected more than 2,000 community signatures in opposition of the merger.