Viewpoint: Phoebe monopoly a good thing?

Phoebe Putney Hospital's takeover of Palmyra Medical Center could become official within a matter of weeks, if not days.

Phoebe leaders insist the buyout will be great for the people of south Georgia.  We're not so sure.

We believe that competition almost always leads to better and cheaper products or services.  Health care competition in the Albany area is about to be a thing of the past.

We're also concerned that a not-for-profit hospital has hundreds of millions of dollars saved up.  Phoebe supporters rightly contend that's a result of good management and proper planning.   But critics who say it's proof Phoebe charges too much may also have a point.

There is one thing about this deal that is unquestionably good for taxpayers.  Phoebe promised to continue to paying taxes on the Palmyra property it's taking over.  And CEO Joel Wernick even said he plans for Phoebe to start paying taxes on its other property that has always been tax exempt.

We hope the buyout will allow Phoebe to build on its commitment to providing outstanding health care to our area.  We hope Phoebe leaders live up to their promises.

And we hope they  diligently review their pricing structure so that health care becomes more affordable and not less affordable in south Georgia.