When health reform was passed, part of the law forbid physician-owned hospitals from expanding or undertaking new construction. The rules affected roughly 300 hospitals in 34 states, offering services ranging from acute care, women’s, rehabilitation and psychiatric care.
You won’t be surprised to hear that the trade group representing such hospitals, Physician Hospitals of America, continues to fight for removal of this restriction, found in section 6001 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
I’ve got to say I’m with the PHA on this one. Why on earth must we block the development of physician-owned hospitals? Yes, there have been a couple of horror stories where specialty physician-owned hospitals –lacking an emergency department — failed to address patient needs.
But from where I sit, those stories are no more common, proportionately, than they are amongst traditional acute care hospitals. Besides, if the main concern legislators had was emergency department care, they could have mandated that all physician-owned facilities have one.
No, it’s clear that physician-owned hospitals make traditionally-structured facilities nervous, and that they’ve worked hard to put them in their place. Other than protecting the profit stream for themselves, however, I don’t think they have a leg to stand on.