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PHA’s Response to the Hospital Monopoly Report’s Reliance on Selective and Misleading Data: The Latest Attempt to Protect a Hospital Monopoly

April 13, 2023

Washington, DC – In response to the growing call for the repeal of the arbitrary ban on the physician ownership of hospitals, the hospital monopoly powers are ramping up their efforts to stifle the growing call for competition. The most recent effort is a report funded by the American Hospital Association (AHA) and the Federation of American Hospitals (FAH), “Select Financial, Operating, and Patient Characteristics of POHs Compared to Non-POHs Fact Sheet,” which relies on cherry-picked data to spin the issue in favor of hospitals without physician ownership.

As a solution-based organization, Physician-Led Healthcare for America (PHA) rarely responds to baseless attacks on our industry. However, the report is so deeply flawed that a response is required to set the record straight.

For instance, an analysis of patients 85 years and older, who only represent 11 percent of the Medicare population, served as one of their primary data points to push the issue in the report’s favor. In addition to selecting certain patient populations, such as those 85 and older, the report also seemed to isolate certain hospitals in the report.  Curiously, with over 200 physician-led hospitals in the nation, the report selected data from various segments of hospitals, neglecting to account for nearly 25 percent of physician-led hospitals nationwide.

The report attempts to propel their tired arguments on cherry picking by pointing to slanted Medicare and Medicaid discharge rates. Not only have these arguments been debunked by actual peer-reviewed medical studies, but also aggregate Medicare data demonstrate the reality that physician-led hospitals performed higher than hospitals without physician ownership. Physician-led hospital Medicare and Medicaid discharge rates were 35 percent, compared to 34.8 percent for hospitals without physician ownership.  

In addition, the report also relies on flawed data to build its case. The attempt to portray physician-led hospitals as having worse readmission rates than non-physician owned hospitals is misleading. The reality is the opposite. Based on actual data from the 2023 Medicare Readmission Report, 52 percent of physician-led hospitals received no penalty. Meanwhile, just 0.045 percent of physician-led hospitals featured a 3-percent readmission rate. The report inaccurately listed 5.6 percent of physician-led hospitals with a readmission rate of 3 percent or higher. Further, if you were to look at actual readmission rates of hips and knees, 90 percent of physician-led hospitals (n=50) had a 5 percent readmission rate or less, which is compared to only 59.9 percent of hospitals without physician ownership (n=613). 

The truth is that it is difficult to hide from the real facts: when taken as a whole, physician-led hospitals often outscore their non-physician owned hospital peers in quality, efficiency, cost and patient satisfaction categories, while treating the same patient population.

Debunking the Myths

The hospital monopoly twists the truth and shapes the data to push their agenda. Click here to view PHA’s analysis of the report, which debunks inaccurate, flawed and misleading data.

Seeking Solutions to Enhance Healthcare for Americans

Our current healthcare system is failing. Americans are faced with rising prices, hospital closures and decreased access. In March alone, six more hospitals announced their closures. Ten thousand seniors are entering the Medicare program every day, and they will require timely access to care.

Ultimately, lawmakers, health policy leaders, patients and physicians are looking for solutions to address one of the most pressing issues in healthcare, consolidation, and they see beyond the flimsy reports that are off-putting attempts to obstruct competition.

As health policy leaders from different parts of the political spectrum recently pointed out, physician-led hospitals serve as a tool that is immediately available to address consolidation:

“Competition in these markets is vital for reducing costs and improving quality. This not only benefits healthcare consumers—which eventually includes all of us, but also taxpayers providing publicly-financed health benefits that cover nearly one in two Americans.”

This recent report by the AHA and FAH is another flat attempt at keeping the status quo and putting the hospital monopoly before the needs of our communities. PHA looks forward to working with the 118th Congress on solutions to spur competition, curb costs and increase access to high quality care for all patients.