Published 7/5/2017

AAOS on physician-owned hospitals

Washington, D.C. (July 5, 2017) — As was explained in last week's Politico article, Section 6001 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) bans creation or expansion of physician-owned hospitals. Specifically, the restrictions prevent any new physician-owned hospitals from participating in Medicare or Medicaid and prevent existing physician-owned hospitals from expanding. These restrictions not only harm patients who deserve access to the care of their choice, but the ban prohibits these hospitals from meeting growing demands in communities across the country - in fact, approximately 25 percent of physician-owned hospitals are located in medically underserved areas.[1] Further, contrary to an opinion expressed in the article, those served by physician-owned hospitals represent a range of patients in need. An independent, peer-reviewed 2015 study of 95 United States hospitals published in the British Medical Journal found “no clinically or statistically significant differences in patient mix between physician-owned hospitals and non-physician owned hospitals.”[2] According to the study, these hospitals “have virtually identical proportions of Medicaid patients and racial minorities and perform very similar to other hospitals in terms of as well quality of care.”
The American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) has been working with Reps. Sam Johnson (R-TX) and Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX) as well as with Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) and others to advance legislation that would reverse these arbitrary restrictions and ensure Medicare and Medicaid patients have access to high-quality health care. The orthopaedic profession exists for the primary purpose of caring for patients, and indeed, orthopaedic surgeons play a vital role in keeping our nation in motion through the prevention and treatment of musculoskeletal care. Physician-owned hospitals allow orthopaedic surgeons—and other physicians—who know patient care best, to be more involved in some of the day-to-day decision-making of the hospitals. Limiting the ability of dedicated physicians to open or expand facilities to treat their patients penalizes those patients who would otherwise benefit from this valuable care. Especially at a time where access to care is vitally important, restrictions on the ability of physicians to serve their community is harmful to the entire health care system, and AAOS continues to urge Congress to reverse this policy.

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Kristen Coultas