In the wake of last month's act of Congress, specialty hospital developers are busy finding ways to circumvent the new 18-month moratorium on new facilities.
Mark Anderson, M.D., a neurosurgeon in Irvine, Calif., says he will go ahead with plans for a 40-bed specialty hospital in Irvine, even though he missed the moratorium's retroactive deadline of Nov. 18. That's because the measure won't stop hospitals from opening; it just bars investing physicians from billing Medicare for services performed in the new hospital, and Anderson says he can forgo those payments for a while.
Chicago attorney Scott Becker says physicians can continue to indirectly invest in a surgery hospital and still bill Medicare by owning the real estate and leasing it to a firm that actually owns the hospital. He says the leasing doctors would not break the law if they charge fair market value. If investors are unsure their plans will pass legal muster, Becker says they can ask for a declaratory judgment in federal court.
Rusty Shelton, president and CEO of ReSurge Hospitals in Hyde Park, Utah, says planners could avoid the moratorium entirely by adding more services.