The federal moratorium on the construction of new physician-operated specialty hospitals expires today. An extension authorized by Centers for Medicare and Medicaid chief Mark McClellan today keeps the ban in place for another six months. Congress enacted the moratorium in 2002 in response to claims from the hospital industry that the specialty facilities represent unfair competition.
The American Medical Association issued a statement in support of specialty hospitals this morning. The AMA argues that recent studies have found that specialty hospitals have lower overall mortality rates and report lower rates of complications such as infections. "Focusing on a specific area of service can lead to higher quality and lower costs as a result of more expert and efficient care," said AMA trustee William Plested.