Specialty hospitals may consume resources vital to the financial health of community hospitals and may make it more difficult for general acute-care hospitals "to fulfill their broad mission to serve all of a community's needs," the General Accounting Office said in a new report. Specialty hospitals are a small part of the healthcare market, but their patients tend to be healthier than patients with similar diagnoses at general hospitals, the GAO said. General hospitals say that specialty hospitals have funneled away the most profitable patients and also express concern that physicians with financial stakes in specialty hospitals may be referring patients to those facilities. "The GAO's findings are of concern because they indicate that community hospitals generally care for the sicker, higher-care patients but get paid the same by Medicare as specialty hospitals," said Rep. Bill Thomas (R-Calif.), who commissioned the report. "This disparity is problematic and needs to be corrected to maintain fairness." -- by Tony Fong
GAO: Specialty hospitals may threaten general facilities
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