Competition for emergency room care is heating up for Health Care Associates (HCA), as California-based Kaiser Permanente completes construction on four of five “multi-specialty centers” in the Washington area that will compete with hospitals for ER business. Kaiser's move is part of a larger effort to shift toward stand-alone medical centers that are less expensive for patients and insurers than ERs, which is a worrisome development for hospital operators like HCA, who rely on emergency room income from privately insured patients to help make ends meet.
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