PHA Backs Repeal of Ban on Physician-Owned Hospitals

John Commins, March 23, 2011

Physician Hospitals of America is lobbying Congress in a long-shot attempt to repeal a section of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that curtails new construction or expansion of physician-owned hospitals.

Two bills, HR 1159, introduced by Rep. Doc Hastings (R-WA) and HR 1186, introduced by Rep. Sam Johnson (R-TX), would both repeal Section 6001 of PPACA, which now prohibits future physician investment in hospitals, caps existing physician investments, and restricts existing physician-owned hospitals from expanding.

PHA President Michael Russell, MD, said the ban on physician-owned hospitals reduces access to care even as PPACA brings more than 30 million new patients into the public health system.

"Much-needed expansion projects were halted at over 30 existing hospitals and more than 40 hospitals are in a state of uncertainty because they were not certified by Medicare in time to meet the Dec. 31 deadline," Russell said. "Passage of this legislation would undo the harm to communities imposed by the current law, help improve access to quality health care services, preserve the right of patients to choose where they receive their health care, and protect much needed jobs during our down economy."

It's not clear if the bills have any support. The repeal effort may find some backers in the Republican-controlled House, but it is unlikely to gain much traction in the Senate, which is controlled by Democrats. In addition, the American Hospital Association, the Federation of American Hospitals, and other powerful healthcare provider organizations lobbied for the restrictions on physician-owned hospitals in PPACA, and they would more than likely lobby heavily against repealing the ban.

John Commins

John Commins is a senior editor at HealthLeaders Media.

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