WASHINGTON – Physician-Led Healthcare for America (PHA) applauds the introduction of HR. __ (To amend title XVIII of the Social Security Act to revise certain physician self-referral exemptions relating to physician-owned hospitals) by Congressman Michael Burgess, MD. The legislation would enhance access to high quality and lower cost healthcare for Americans. Specifically, it would empower the two segments of the healthcare system that are most in need of additional hospital services: rural areas and communities where hospitals are at capacity.
“This year has been marked by a growing chorus of healthcare leaders who are demanding the elimination of the arbitrary ban on the physician ownership of hospitals,” Joseph Alhadeff, MD, PHA’s president, said. “Eighty-five national and state organizations are actively asking Congress to end the ban. Policy experts and national and state organizations agree: physician-led hospitals offer vital competition in the healthcare landscape, offering numerous advantages in terms of cost efficiency, quality of care and innovative practices.”
The bill would allow physician ownership in rural hospitals for hospitals that are more than a 35-mile drive (or, in the case of mountainous terrain or in areas with only secondary roads available, a 15-mile drive) from the main patient campus of the hospital or critical access hospital. In addition, the legislation would allow existing physician-owned hospitals that have been handcuffed since the 2010 adoption of the Affordable Care Act to meet their community needs and expand.
“Corporate interests, non-profit entities, and even lawyers are allowed to own a hospital. However, the individual with the highest level of training, a physician, is prohibited from owning a hospital. Meanwhile, the Medicare program allows physicians to own ambulatory surgery centers and ancillary services. It is clear that opponents of physician-led hospitals are simply using the 2010 ban as a tool to protect their monopoly,” stated Alhadeff.
Alhadeff added, “We commend Congressman Burgess and Chairs McMorris Rodgers and Guthrie on the inclusion the bill in the Energy and Commerce Committee’s October 19, 2023, health hearing, “Strengthening Patient Access to Care in Medicare.” With over 600 hospitals at risk of closing this year, new solutions are desperately needed to enhance care delivery in rural areas, and physician-led hospitals represent a potential lifeline to these communities. Enabling physicians to open new hospitals in rural areas without existing hospitals and allowing existing facilities that are at capacity to expand will offer a ready-made tool to help address access challenges and offer needed competition that drives down cost.”
Physician-Led Healthcare for America (PHA) promotes, educates and advocates for exceptional patient-centered care through physician leadership. Founded in 2001, PHA advocates for the interests of physician-owned hospitals, physician-led facilities, physician-led practices and other physician-led initiatives at the federal, state and local levels. The organization also supports its members in their efforts to advance the quality and availability of healthcare in their specific communities.