Physician-owned hospitals looking for ways around ACA

Physician-owned hospitals are simultaneously lobbying to get some of the financial restrictions imposed by the Affordable Care Act lifted by Congress, while also expanding services that haven't been proscribed, reported The Wall Street Journal.

The ACA blocked the construction of any new physician-owned hospitals, and prevented those currently operating from adding beds or operating rooms if they wanted to remain eligible for Medicare. The rationale was to curb any inclinations for doctors to engage in self-referrals of patients, driving up potentially unnecessary procedures and costs.

In response, many facilities are expanding hours to include same-day procedures or performing them during the weekend to make it more convenient for patients to access their facilities, according to the Journal.

And at least one physician-owned hospital, Forest Park Medical Center in Dallas, is no longer accepting Medicare patients, allowing it to avoid the ACA restrictions altogether, the Journal reported. "We felt like the law gave us no choice," J. Robert Wyatt, a Forest Park founder, told the newspaper.

Meanwhile, the physician-owned-hospital lobby, Physician Hospitals of America (PHA), had litigated the matter in federal court in conjunction with the Texas Spine & Joint Hospital, but the case was thrown out of federal court.

Now, the PHA is lobbying Congress to loosen some of the ACA-related restrictions as well, according to The Wall Street Journal.

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