TMA to Congress: Stop Pretending Ownership Limits Save Money

May 7, 2008

The Honorable Kay Granger
U.S. House of Representatives
440 Cannon HOB.
Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Representative Granger:

On behalf of the 43,000 physician and medical student members of the Texas Medical Association, I am writing to express our continued concern over a faulty method of financing our government's operations.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) continues to propagate the myth that restricting or eliminating physician ownership of health care facilities will save money. Now there is talk of including this provision as a method of financing in the Supplemental Appropriations Bill. The assumptions used by CBO are flawed. These restrictions not only would leave the budget out of balance but also would harm Texans' access to quality medical care.

We have appreciated your support in the past for removing these illogical restrictions on physician ownership of facilities from the CHAMP bill last year and from the 2008 Mental Health Parity and Farm Bills. We opposed the restrictions on physician ownership then - and we were joined by the significant support of nearly ALL members of the Texas congressional delegation - and we strongly oppose them now.

We have found absolutely no reputable study that supports CBO's blind allegiance to these restrictions. The research to date consistently finds high quality, high patient satisfaction, and competitive costs in these facilities. For CBO to assert otherwise flies in the face of logic and evidence. If overutilization and/or fraud are such significant problems at these facilities, where are the data to support that contention? We ask CBO to prove up its assumptions and numbers or permanently remove them as a purported budget savings. As the saying goes in Texas, it is time for the CBO to put up or ____ up.

It seems unthinkable in America that the right to own our own businesses or health care facilities is questioned. The physicians of the Texas Medical Association strongly support responsible ownership rights. We believe that responsible physician owners will see all patients who need the services they provide, provide only services that are truly warranted, give patients all viable options for their care, and tell patients they have ownership in the facility. If CBO has the data to prove otherwise, we will support correction of inequities of all health care facilities, as long as all are audited and held to the same standards.

We urge you not to allow this provision to become part of the Supplemental Appropriations Bill or any other legislation. This is neither a Republican nor a Democratic issue; rather it is an issue of immense importance to Texas physicians and our patients. It is key to the future viability of our health care systems.

We thank you for your continued support.

Sincerely,

Josie R. Williams, MD
President


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