Doctors and hospitals in Vermont clash over plan to open surgery center

Medical

A battle is afoot in Vermont between a group of independent physicians who want to open an ambulatory surgical center and hospitals that are trying to halt their effort.

The doctors face an uphill battle to open the surgical center that would compete with two of the state’s largest hospitals for patients in the Burlington area, according to VT Digger.

The doctors have so far been denied state approval to open the Green Mountain Surgical Center as they are deadlocked in a regulatory battle with the Vermont Association of Hospitals and Health Systems, which represents Vermont’s 14 hospitals, and the Northwestern Medical Center in St. Albans, according to the news report.

The hospital association and the hospital say the center, which would open in Colchester, would have “a direct negative impact” on the state’s healthcare system, the publication said. The center would compete with Northwestern and the University of Vermont Medical Center, which investors estimate could lose 3 percent and 14 percent of their patient surgeries respectively.

Doctors have been seeking approval for over a year for the center that will offer basic surgeries and procedures, including knee and shoulder shoulders, hysterectomies, colonoscopies and treatments for spinal pain. The center’s investors say it will reduce wait times and save money for patients as independent physicians charge insurance companies less for surgical and medical services than academic medical centers. The doctors would also not bill for “facility fees” as academic medical centers and community hospitals do. Businesses and community organizations have written letters in support of the proposed surgery center, the report said.

The hospital association says the center will duplicate infrastructure and services that hospitals already provide. The Green Mountain Care Board will decide whether to permit the center, which investors hope to open in 2018.