PHA: White House deal eliminates patient choice

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The Physician Hospitals of America (PHA), which represents physician-owned hospitals, has rejected the American Hospital Association, Federation of American Hospitals and Catholic Health Association's agreement with the White House last week to reduce Medicare hospital spending by $155 billion, indicating it could destroy "physician-owned hospitals as a quid pro quo for the Medicare cost savings."

The PHA deemed the deal as a "desperate move aimed at reducing competition, garnering control of the entire industry and eliminating patient choice."

However, PHA said that the physician-owned hospitals would also "shoulder their share of cost controls and other responsibilities to see health reform become reality."

"To put this anti-competitive issue into the deal between the Administration, Congress and the hospital associations makes no sense and demonstrates the desperation of many hospitals to remove healthcare decisions from the hands of those who should have the biggest say, the physicians and patients," said Molly Sandvig, PHA executive director

"Ownership of a hospital by any party is simply not relevant to ensuring that every American has affordable access to medical care. Including the destruction of physician-owned hospitals jeopardizes more than 70,000 American jobs," she said. "Given the state of our economy and the latest unemployment figures, we cannot understand why the Administration would agree to this part of the package."

The PHA said that there are more than 220 physician-owned hospitals in 32 states. There are 18 general acute-care facilities, 153 multispecialty facilities (children's, women's and multi-specialty surgical hospitals), 19 rehabilitation and long-term care hospitals, 19 cardiac hospitals and 13 orthopedic hospitals. Also, the association noted that there are 104 new hospitals under development that would not open if the current healthcare reform bill passes.

"If the facts are truly considered, physician hospitals will be welcome, and the hospital associations' deal will be seen for what it really is, a ploy to reduce healthy competition in healthcare," Sandvig said.