“Opponents of physician-owned specialty hospitals are trying to slip a provision to ban specialty hospitals into the farm bill conference report, well after the bill has been passed by both the House and Senate,” according to an opposition statement issued by William G. Plested III, MD, immediate past-president of the American Medical Association (AMA).
“Specialty hospitals are an innovative way to provide patients with high-quality care, and patients consistently report high satisfaction with the care provided at these hospitals. In addition to providing high quality patient care, a congressionally-mandated study found that specialty hospitals provide more net community benefits through uncompensated care and taxes than not-for-profit competitors as a share of total revenues,” Plested noted.
“As we work to improve the healthcare system, it is bad policy to take away patients' healthcare choices by banning specialty hospitals—especially under the cover of the farm bill,” the AMA past-president said.
“This is a sneak attack by general hospitals attempting to eliminate competition, and it is wrong to insert unrelated healthcare provisions into the farm bill that were not part of the House and Senate floor action,” he argued.
"The AMA and other supporters of specialty hospitals are ready and willing to discuss the merits of these hospitals, but its opponents are resorting to smoke and mirrors to state their case. The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) recently rebuked the American Hospital Association and others in a letter for misrepresenting the findings of an HHS [Health and Human Services Department] study on specialty hospitals,” Plested said.
Plested concluded that access “to care for Medicare patients is already at risk because of looming Medicare physician payment cuts. Taking away a venue in which patients receive high quality care is antithetical to the goal of improving seniors' access to care. Keep the farm bill for the farmers - and let's have an open discussion about access to healthcare and the importance of specialty hospitals in the light of day.”