Last month I submitted a letter to the editor, but Lancaster newspaper has so far declined to print it. The letter questions why Lancaster General Health doesn't provide domestic partner benefits for its employees--and suggests that it is placing itself at a competitive disadvantage by not doing so. Here is the text of the letter:

Dear Editor:
Lancaster General already dominates county healthcare, but its leaders aren’t content. Newspaper reports tell us they want to build a medical school and add more residency programs. Even for a heavy-hitter like LGH, achieving those goals would be like moving from the minor leagues to the majors. Is LGH ready to advance? Not yet, and here’s why.

All of the region’s teaching hospitals--Drexel, Hershey, UPenn, and Temple--provide health benefits to the domestic partners of their staff. In contrast, LGH offers nothing for domestic partners. According to the hospital’s rules, only spouses “as recognized in Pennsylvania,” are eligible for benefits.

So why and how do other medical schools and hospitals offer DP benefits? It’s simple. These institutions recognize that doing so makes them more competitive. And DP benefits aren’t limited to Philadelphia and Harrisburg--York Hospital offers them, too. To qualify, employees and their partners fill out an Affidavit of Domestic Partnership, a legal form that can be satisfied by a joint mortgage, a shared bank account, or the mention of the partner in a will.

By rejecting DP benefits, LGH already faces a disadvantage in attracting and retaining top-notch students and staff. This weakness will only spread if LGH becomes a major teaching hospital and starts competing directly with regional powerhouses like Temple and Hershey. So before LGH unveils any new blueprints, they should add domestic partners as eligible dependents. Until they do, LGH will never compete in the big leagues.

Jason Stevenson
Lancaster, PA