House adds self-referral ban to SCHIP bill

Congress will soon be considering a bill to reauthorize the State Children's Health Insurance Program, the House version of which would ban physician self-referral to hospitals in which they have an ownership interest.

This provision is one of a few funding mechanisms included in the House measure, which should cost the federal government $35 billion. Another is language that would impose a 61-cent federal tax on tobacco products. The bill attempts to re-authorize SCHIP for 4 1/2 years. 

The House bill would cover an additional 4.1 million new children, part of an overall expansion to 11 million children over 4 1/2 years.
The Senate, meanwhile, has produced a bill that would spend $31.5 billion to cover 3.9 million additional children over the next few years.

Reactions to the measure, of course, are mixed. The American Hospital Association applauded the House version, noting that it has long opposed physician self-referral. Not surprisingly, meanwhile, Physicians Hospitals of America opposes the restriction, arguing that it would shut down hospitals across the country. PHA advocates for physician-owned facilities.

To learn more about the bill:
- read this Modern Healthcare article (reg. req.)

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