TMA, PF Support Physician-Owned Hospitals

TMA and The Physicians Foundation (PF) have filed a legal brief [PDF] with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit challenging the Affordable Care Act, which prohibits expansion or construction of physician-owned hospitals (POHs). The brief says hospitals owned by physicians have better health care outcomes, shorter hospital stays, and much higher patient satisfaction ratings than do other hospitals. 

The brief supports a lawsuit to overturn the prohibition filed by Physician Hospitals of America and the Texas Spine & Joint Hospital  of Tyler against U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.  

The brief asserts that the arguments against POHs, upon which Congress relied upon to enact the law, are flawed and unreasonable. It contends the Affordable Care Act does not remedy alleged financial conflicts of interest but rather worsens them, removes competition, and limits physicians' abiliuty to make important health care decisions. 

"These aggressive non-POHs have eliminated the competition, and the result will be greater financial conflicts of interest, higher health care costs, fewer choices for patients, and less innovation," the brief says. It also applauds the significant community benefit POHs provide, contrasting it with the very profitable "not-for-profit" hospitals which do not pay federal or state income, property, or sales tax, resulting in billions in tax breaks per year.

"Whether through paying [billions in] taxes and employing thousands, providing hospital access in poor areas, or providing charity care, physician-owned hospitals provide a contribution to society which is unmatched," TMA and the Physicians Foundation contend.

The Physicians Foundation, created by the settlement of organized medicine's federal antiracketeering lawsuit against for-profit HMOs, advances practicing physicians' work and improves the quality of health care through a variety of activities, including awarding grants. TMA Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer Louis J. Goodman, PhD, is the foundation president.

Action, Sept. 16, 2011