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May 30, 2017



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Sen. Lankford Introduces POH Legislation

Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) on May 16, 2017 introduced the Patient Access to Higher Quality Health Care Act of 2017, which lifts the ban on the creation and expansion of physician-owned hospitals (POHs) and allows these hospitals to participate in Medicare and Medicaid. Lifting this ban will increase hospital competition, which will lower costs and expand access to quality care for more Americans, especially those with Medicare and Medicaid. The American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) applauds Sen. Lankford for introducing this bill and recently joined a number of groups in a letter urging Congress to pass the legislation.

Read the letter online here.

Section 6001 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) prohibits approximately 250 existing physician-owned hospitals from expanding to meet community needs, and it also prohibits any new hospitals with physician ownership from participating in Medicare or Medicaid. The only way for these hospitals to avoid the ACA requirements is to completely stop providing care to Medicare and Medicaid patients. This significantly limits access and choice at a time when more and more providers are dropping Medicare and Medicaid patients because of the low level of reimbursement from these programs. By repealing this provision (Section 6001) of the ACA, hospital competition, innovation, and access to care would increase.

At a briefing on Capitol Hill discussing the issue, Sen. John Barrasso, MD (R-WY) recently stressed the importance of physician involvement as well as the high-quality patient care that results from POHs. Thomas P. Miller highlighted a number of studies showing the quality of POHs, including one from the British Medical Journal that found “no evidence that POHs systematically avoid poorer patients or those from ethnic and racial minority groups,” and that “POHs also performed equally to non-POHs on a wide array of measures of quality of care, costs, and payments for care.” Finally, orthopaedic surgeon and AAOS member Frederic Liss, MD shared the physician perspective on POHs, commenting that the innovation and drive of physicians helps lower cost while improving quality of care, which can inject much-needed competition into the marketplace and force traditional hospitals to improve and innovate.

Sen. Lankford released a press statement noting the successful track record POHs have in providing individualized and innovative quality care, as well as the important role they play in meeting a growing demand for health care services, especially in rural areas.

“Obamacare is not working for most Americans, costs have skyrocketed and choices have diminished,” said Sen. Lankford. “There are many smaller health care reform steps that can target specific problems within health care. The Patient Access to Higher Quality Health Care Act of 2017 will increase competition, which will lower health care costs and expand quality of care by empowering smaller physician-owned hospitals to innovate and tailor their services to the communities they serve. We need strong general care hospitals in Oklahoma, but that should not preclude smaller innovative hospitals from also providing care.”

The Patient Access to Higher Quality Health Care Act of 2017 (HR 1156) was introduced in the House by Rep. Sam Johnson (R-TX) in February.