The ban on physician referral to hospitals in which they have an ownership interest helps ensure hospitals are able to care for their communities, AHA President and CEO Rich Umbdenstock explains in an opinion piece today in The Hill. “Unfortunately, today some in Congress want to eliminate the ban and allow these egregious and costly arrangements,” he writes. “Ill-advised legislation would allow new arrangements of this type to proliferate. This would be a giant step backwards for patients, taxpayers, employers and community hospitals….Eliminating the ban would result in gaming of the Medicare program and would jeopardize patient access to emergency care, potentially harm sicker and lower-income patients, and damage the safety-net provided by full-service hospitals. These arrangements have been studied for more than 15 years by Congress, the administration and independent organizations such as MedPAC. The data is clear. Several studies show that physician self-referral leads to higher per capita utilization of health care services, which can be costly to patients. This is the epitome of health care inefficiency and rising costs.”