The House will soon be considering a bill to reauthorize the State Childrens Health Insurance Program that contains a controversial payment mechanism to help fund its $35 billion price tag.
Both Senate and House versions of this legislation to reinstate the 10-year-old program offer a 61-cent federal tax on tobacco products to keep the program going for another 4½ years. The House version, however, contains an additional offset: a provision that would ban physician self-referral to hospitals in which they have an ownership interest.
The House as a result has provided a slightly more costly, expansive fix than the Senates $31.5 billion option to provide coverage to 3.9 million additional children over the next few years. The House version seeks to expand coverage for 4.1 million new children, for a total of 11 million children over 4½ years.
In a letter to House members, the American Hospital Association applauded the Houses effort to curb physician self-referral: The AHA has long advocated for such a ban because of the potential for self-referral to cause a conflict between the needs of the patient and the financial interests of the physician.
Not all trade groups are happy about the physician self-referral offset, however. The measure would shut down hospitals across the country and put thousands of healthcare professionals out of work, said Molly Sandvig, executive director of Physicians Hospitals of America, in a written statement. This measure is another heartless attempt to limit healthcare choices and support big-box hospital bureaucrats over physicians, according to Sandvig.