The Congressional Budget Office released a more detailed snapshot on the projected Medicare savings that it said could be reaped if physicians were banned from owning hospitals, even though such legislative proposals are fluid and have met with resistance.
In three different reports dating back to last year, the CBO has revised its score, or projected dollar amount in savings, each timepartly because the ownership provision itself has changed, but also because of new research on the topic. In its current report, the CBO addressed one specific provision already approved by the House as part of a larger mental-health parity bill. Under terms spelled out in the bill, the CBO said that limiting ownership would save Medicare $2.4 billion over a 10-year period primarily because utilization rates of certain procedures would automatically go down.
Proponents of physician-owned hospitals, however, have chided the CBO for using outdated or poorly designed studies. Last year, the CBO projected that a stricter physician ownership ban, included as part of a childrens health bill, would save $2.9 billion over a 10-year period. The CBO again revised its score for a similar provision in a Senate bill, saying it would save $1.3 billion.
The CBO score is important to critics and proponents of a ban alike because as long as the measure is seen as a cost-saver, the likelier the measures chances of passing. -- by Matthew DoBias
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