Is reform a danger to physician-owned hospitals?

Are the health reform bills rolling forward designed to shut down physician-owned hospitals? Maybe, or maybe not, but that's definitely how a trade group representing such hospitals is presenting things.

The Physician Hospitals of America has put out a statement suggesting that its members will be in dire trouble if reforms pass as currently written. The current language strictly limits growth rates for physician-owned facilities unless they meet four key criteria related to outstanding community demand, a provision not applied to hospitals without physician investors.

According to an analysis by John Schneider, PhD, not one hospital owned and operated by doctors will be allowed to grow to meet community demand of the current language passes, the PHA says.

Right now, physician-owned facilities employ about 70,000 staffers, generating a payroll of $2.4 billion and about $1.9 billion in trade payables, the group says. If the provisions do pass, they would "destroy over 200 of America's best and safest hospitals," according to the group's executive director, Molly Sandvig.

Of course, every group engages in brinkmanship politics when it seems their livelihood is threatened. But in all honesty, I think Sandvig and her peers make a good point. What purpose could such rules have other than restriction competition to existing hospitals not owned by doctors? If the point was to manage growth, most states already have a Certificate-of-Need process for that. This looks egregious.

Find out more about the PHA's contentions:
- read this news release

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Hospital groups seek to use reform to regulate physician-owned hospitals

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