It's a little-known fact that an oversupply of emergency room beds tends to push up health care costs, Alaska Dispatch News reports.
That's because any unused beds are still costing hospitals money, despite not being occupied. Hospitals, in theory, would pass the cost of those unused beds on to their patients.
To prevent hospitals from facing such a dilemma, Alaska and most other states have laws limiting the capacity of emergency rooms, as well as other medical services and facilities. Alaska’s hospitals can't add new emergency beds until state health officials determine, through a mathematical formula, how many are actually necessary.
And when that number grows, the question becomes: Which hospital will get to add them? The debate is playing out right now in Anchorage between the state's two largest hospitals, Alaska Dispatch News writes. Read more here.