A last-minute amendment to the Senate version of the Medicare prescription drug bill could stop all physician investment in specialty hospitals.
The amendment, introduced by Sen. John Breaux (D-La.) and passed by the Senate Finance Committee on June 12, would extend to specialty hospitals the so-called Stark rules that ban physicians' investment in medical facilities where they refer patients.
But the bill leaves some room for interpretation by HHS on what a specialty hospital is and what constitutes significant physician referrals.
The amendment is not included in the House version of the Medicare bill. If the bills pass both houses, the amendment may drop out in the horse trading that is expected when the House and Senate versions go to conference, probably after the July 4 holiday.