Doctor-owned could become thing of the past
POSTED: Monday, April 12, 2010 - 6:15pm
UPDATED: Thursday, April 15, 2010 - 10:09am
TYLER-Tucked in the new national health care reform law is a provision that effectively blocks doctors from opening their own hospitals. The new law also limits new construction at existing physician hospitals. Now many of these hospitals are speaking out.
For years doctor-owned hospitals have been praised time after time for being the best. According to consumer reports, 10 of the top 12 hospitals in Texas right now are doctor-owned, including the Texas Spine and Joint Hospital in Tyler. But now these hospitals are under attack, thanks to the new health care law.
"They're trying to kill the industry," Texas Spine and Joint Hospital's CEO, Tony Wahl, said. "They're trying to limit what physicians can do."
The new health care rules single out such hospitals by making new doctor-owned hospitals ineligible to receive payments for Medicare and Medicaid patients starting at the end of this year. This ban alone will effectively kill about 40 specialty hospital projects currently under development in Texas right now.
"We think with this health care reform that there's not going to be enough hospitals and doctors to go around, so why would you want to limit the top quality hospitals in the country," Wahl said.
And when it comes to existing doctor-owned hospitals, they'll be grandfathered in to get government funds for patients. But as far as any plans to expand in the future, Wahl says that it will be almost impossible and in the long run will stifle their ability to change and meet market needs. That means essentially no adding beds, procedure rooms or operating rooms.
"We don't have enough now for the patient demand that we have here at the hospital, so it's a real catastrophe," Wahl said.
Right now there are several organizations including the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons who are suing to have the law declared unconstitutional.