In an exclusive podcast interview, Molly Sandvig, executive director of Physician Hospitals of America, tells Modern Healthcare reporter Jessica Zigmond why provisions banning or restricting physician ownership of hospitals keep finding their way into proposed federal legislation and what the PHA is doing to keep those provisions from becoming federal law. The interview was conducted on June 19 at Modern Healthcares offices in Chicago.
[00:00:04.16] Jessica Zigmond: Hello, this is Jessica Zigmond, and Im a reporter with Modern Healthcare and Modern Physician. Were talking today with Molly Sandvig, the executive director for Physician Hospitals of America. The topic is physician-owned hospitals, and Ill ask the first question. Molly, physician-owned hospitals have been the target of congressional leaders for some time now, and provisions have been placed in bills regarding childrens health insurance, farming and a supplemental spending bill for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Can you talk a little bit about what the provisions mean and where it stands now?
[00:00:36.28] Molly Sandvig: Certainly. Our group has definitely been the target of many of a bill this year in 2008; part of the reason for that has been the fact that we currently have a Congressional Budget Office or CBO score attached to our industry. Thats been the reason, basically, that our industry has been added to these bills. Theres been an offset thats varied in amount from $1.6 to $1.8 billion, now down to $1.1 billion, all over 10 years. The CBO has been reluctant to change that score, and yet I know that they are still continuing to look at the score and open for further conversation on the issue. So, in that regard, we have been the target of several congressional bills at this point.
[00:01:25.15] Jessica Zigmond: In terms of where the bills stand now, weve been hearing its likely that the bills wont pass with these provisions. Are you hearing the same?
[00:01:34.05] Molly Sandvig: Absolutely. The mental-health parity bill, weve been told, will pass without our physician-owned hospital industry issue, as an offset. Farm bill, we were removed from the farm bill before its initial passage. And now with the appropriations bill having been considered by the House, and negotiated with the White House, there is not a current physician-owned hospital provision on the House version of the bill as of today. We should know very soon whether the Senate version echoes the House version and whether that will continue to remain that way.
[00:02:06.18] Jessica Zigmond: Thanks. Just last week, you were here in Chicago for the AMAs annual meeting, and I was hoping you could talk a little bit about how the AMAs mission aligns, if at all, with PHAs, and also if you could tell us a little bit about what you talked about to the group.
[00:02:23.19] Molly Sandvig: Certainly. The AMA mission definitely aligns with Physician Hospitals of Americas mission in that the mission of both groups is really to enhance and improve hospital-physician partnerships. What I spoke to the group about was the ability of physicians to reclaim quality care in healthcare through physician leadership. And thats been a very, very key thing in our physician-owned hospitals, because as doctors own their own hospitals, theyre able to control the types of care their patients receive and really affect the quality and outcomes of the cases and the procedures, the general care thats actually given to patients at those hospitals. Thats been key.
I gave a number of examples to the AMA, and I believe it was very well-received. The physicians are, as a whole, very supportive of the concept of independent physician ownership and leadership remaining an option in this country.
[00:03:21.03] Jessica Zigmond: Great, thank you. Again, this has been Jessica Zigmond with Modern Healthcare and Modern Physician, and this afternoon we spoke with Molly Sandvig, who serves as executive director of the Physician Hospitals of America in Sioux Falls, S.D.