Since the beginning of this year, two bills, companion legislation in the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate, have been introduced to end discrimination against physicians and improve care for patients.
Each is titled the “Patient Access to Higher Quality Health Care Act of 2017,” and each seeks to end the Affordable Care Acts’ discriminatory provisions preventing physicians from forming new physician-owned hospitals and from expanding existing such facilities.
The government’s own data supports the fact that physician-owned hospitals provide high quality care and deliver patient satisfaction. In 2017, 7 out of the 10 hospitals ranked highest by CMS’s “Hospital Value Based Purchasing Program,” which tracks high quality of care and patient satisfaction, were physician owned, as were 40 out of the top 100. And, CMS data support the fact that physician-owned hospitals are cheaper: they currently save Medicare billions over the usual investor-owned and non-taxpaying (AKS “nonprofit”) varieties.
Of course, as I addressed in my blog post Hospital Greed Trumps Competition And Patient Care, investor-owned and non-taxpaying hospitals, and lobbying groups such as the American Hospital Association, don’t want the competition from physicians. Why should they? They want to employ physicians and capture physician referrals. Why, because, that’s just good business. But, they don’t want physicians to own hospitals and capture their own referrals. Why, because, that would be a conflict of interest. Yes, that’s their argument. And, yes, it’s bullshit.
Despite what rioting university students, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, and the American Hospital Association profess, the last time I looked competition and the market were far better arbiters of what people, in this case, patients, want. Why keep preventing them from getting it?
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Mark F. Weiss