No, we didn't accidentally reprint an article from the Herald's archives last week.
Kadlec Regional Medical Center and Kennewick General Hospital are in a new battle over additional hospital beds.
Earlier this month, Kadlec submitted an application to the state's Certificate of Need program asking to add 114 hospital beds, while KGH submitted requests to expand by either 25 or 58 beds.
Sure, it sounds a lot like every other dispute between the hospitals over expansion plans, but that's because the state's system for granting new beds virtually guarantees periodic skirmishes.
That's especially true in rapidly expanding markets like the Tri-Cities, where the state's methods for approving new beds create pent-up demand.
The Certificate of Need program determines whether to grant requests for new hospital beds based on population projections that have underestimated Tri-City trends.
Better alternatives exist. The state's Office of Financial Management produces low, average and rapid growth estimates.
The Certificate of Need program could use the higher figure to determine future needs but invariably takes the middle road, hospital officials here complain.
Lourdes Medical Center is a crucial part of the community's health care system, but isn't part of the perennial battle over new beds.
The Pasco hospital's critical care designation means it gets higher federal reimbursement rates for providing Medicare and Medicaid services to a rural area, but the designation also puts a cap on the number of hospital beds.
Lourdes should consider itself lucky that it doesn't have to wrestle over the limited number of new beds allowed under the Certificate of Need program.
We're not sure the state's reliance on conservative growth projections makes sense anywhere in Washington, since the added expense of a few extra rooms seems preferable to a shortage of hospital beds.
But it's proved especially inadequate in the Tri-Cities, where population growth has outpaced most of the nation in recent years.
Kadlec and KGH are both operating at capacity today, but they're likely locked out of any expansion plans unless the state starts using more realistic population projections.
The Certificate of Need program ought to start by using the largest of the Office of Financial Management's three projections for population growth.
That will at least put Tri-City hospitals on a path toward adequately addressing future needs.
The state also needs to look at the requests from Kadlec and KGH in tandem, since beds approved at one hospital influence the state's decisions about the other.
The deliberations need to focus on what's best for the Tri-Cities, and that means keeping both hospitals economically viable.
It won't be easy to determine the right balance, but the task will be even more difficult without a comprehensive approach.
Considering either hospital's request in isolation of the other's needs will ultimately reduce the community's options for health care.