By Fred Lucas, Staff Writer
(CNSNews.com) – The new health care overhaul law – that promised increased access and efficiency in health care – will prevent doctor-owned hospitals from adding more rooms and more beds.
These hospitals are advertised as less bureaucratic and more focused on doctor-patient decision making. However, larger corporate hospitals say doctor-owned facilities discriminate in favor of high-income patients and refer business to themselves.
The new rules single out physician-owned hospitals, making new physician-owned projects ineligible to receive payments for Medicare and Medicaid patients.
Existing doctor-owned hospitals will be grandfathered in to get government funds for patients but must seek permission from the Department of Health and Human Services to expand.
The get the department’s permission, a doctor-owned hospital must be in a county where population growth is 150 percent of the population growth of the state in the last five years; impatient admissions must be equal to all hospitals located in the county; the bed occupancy rate must not be greater than the state average, and it must be located in a state where hospital bed capacity is less than the national average.
These rules are under Title VI, Section 6001 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The provision is titled “Physician Ownership and Other Transparency – Limitations on Medicare Exceptions to the Prohibition on Certain Physician Referral for Hospitals.”
More than 60 doctor-owned hospitals across the country that were in the development stage will be canceled, said Molly Sandvig, executive director of Physician Hospitals of America (PHA).
“That’s a lot of access to communities that will be denied,” Sandvig told CNSNews.com. “The existing hospitals are greatly affected. They can’t grow. They can’t add beds. They can’t add rooms. Basically, it stifles their ability to change and meet market needs. This is really an unfortunate thing as well, because we are talking about some of the best hospitals in the country.”