The AHA and Federation of American Hospitals yesterday expressed strong opposition to the Patient Access to Higher Quality Health Care Act (S. 1133), and any other legislation that would repeal or modify current law to expand self-referral to physician-owned hospitals. The bill was introduced last month by Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) as a Senate companion to H.R. 1156. “For more than 15 years, community hospitals, policymakers, the business community and governmental advisory bodies have grappled with overutilization and higher health care costs caused by self-referral to physician-owned hospitals,” the organizations said in a letter to members of the Senate. “Conflicts of interest are inherent in these arrangements, whereby physicians refer their patients to hospitals in which they have an ownership interest. Seven years ago, after a decade of studies and congressional hearings showing the adverse impact of these arrangements, Congress acted to protect the Medicare and Medicaid programs and the taxpayers that fund them by imposing a prospective ban on self-referral to new physician-owned hospitals. Nevertheless, some groups like the Physician Hospitals of America continue to attempt to unwind the law. Their proposals would harm patients, community hospitals and local businesses.”

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