NJ to help surgery centers out of legal bind

Recently, a New Jersey state court ruled that ambulatory-surgery centers owned by physicians were violating a state law prohibiting physician self-referrals. The ruling, which would effectively shut down a thriving industry, has thrown the state's 200 ASC owners into a panic. Now, the New Jersey Board of Medical Examiners and state Senate President Richard Codey are working to help the ASCs out of their dilemma. Earlier this month, the Board issued an emergency amendment to its regs which would broaden the definition of a doctor's medical office to include separate sites where the doctor performs surgery. However, the change hasn't been officially adopted by the board yet, nor gotten the needed approval from the governor.

Now, however, Sen. Codey--who wrote the original law prohibiting physician self-referrals--is introducing a bill which will allow current ASCs to be be grandfathered in. However, it's notable that Codey's bill will prohibit the establishment of new centers, a move which would throttle the growth of an extremely high-growth industry. Looks like the state's ASC industry is likely to lose something no matter what happens here.

To get more info on the New Jersey ASCs' dilemma:
- read this Philadelphia Inquirer article

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