Monday, April 12, 2010

Health Care Bill Restrictions Kill 60 Hospital Projects

The recent so-called "health care reform" bill, which in reality didn't so much reform "health care" as to addressing the high cost of care but in reality was a big government shuffling of the health care "insurance" and "pre-paid care" business is already working to limit the supply of hospitals.

Here are some excerpts from an article at CNSNEWS.com today whose site was most unavailable after The Drudge Report posted a link:

The new health care overhaul law, which promised increased access and efficiency in health care, will prevent doctor-owned hospitals from adding more rooms and more beds, says a group that advocates physician involvement in every aspect of health care delivery.

Physician-owned 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 health care rules single out such 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.

To 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; inpatient admissions must be equal to all hospitals located in the county; the bed-occupancy rate must not be greater than the state average, and the hospital must be located in a state where hospital bed capacity is less than the national average.

The rules fall 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).

The article goes on to talk about nurse to patient ratios, the employment impact of doctor-owned hospitals and how corporatist interests have been working to limit the suppy of them:

The organization says physician-owned hospitals have higher patient satisfaction, greater control over medical decisions for patients and doctor, better quality care and lower costs. Further, physician-owned hospitals have an average 4-1 patient-to-nurse ratio, compared to the national average of 8-1 for general hospitals.

Further, these 260 doctor-owned hospitals in 38 states provide 55,000 jobs, $2.4 billion in payroll and pay $509 million in federal taxes, according to the PHA.

In one ironic aspect, President Barack Obama’s two largest legislative achievements clashed. The Hammond Community Hospital in North Hammond, Ind., got $7 million in bond money from the federal stimulus act in 2009. It will likely be scrapped because of the new rules on physician-owned hospitals, according to the Post-Tribune newspaper in Merrillville, Ind.

Doctor-owned hospitals have long been a target of the American Hospital Association, which represents corporate-owned hospitals as well as non-profit hospitals.
This is the kind of action on the part of government that limits competition and innovation rather than encouraging it. At the same time, if patients took more control of their health care dollars and decisions they might be more apt to shop around. Historically, people have just submitted themselves to the doctor's directions rather than asking if there are any less expensive options. We also have an issue where doctors are limited in which hospitals they may provide services at, this further limits patient choices in ways that may or may not be appropriate but might be understandable from a hospital administration perspective. The problem is that often the doctors can't tell you what the full price will be for any kind of procedure ... hardly anyone ever asks apparently.

In short, the whole health care delivery system needs to overhauled; but, massive government regulation and red tape stand in the way. Instead of getting less red tape, Congress just gave us a bunch more. Once again, taking the country in the wrong direction.





1 comment:

Hannah said...

This is Hannah Bevills, I am an editor with Hospital.com. We are a medical publication whose focus is geared towards promoting awareness on hospitals, including information, news, and reviews on them. Given the relevance of what you are offering from your site and what our mission is, I feel we may be able to collaborate in some way or another, I look forward to your response regarding the matter. Thanks!

Hannah Bevills
hannah.bevills@gmail.com
Hospital.com