A few days ago, I was alerted to a comment made by Rep. Pete Stark (D-Calif.) regarding physician-owned hospitals and the language that was passed against these hospitals on Jan. 14 in the House bill concerning the State Childrens Health Insurance Program. Stark specifically stated, I am glad to report that the bill is fully financed. We can argue about what happens four or five years out, but Im sure well have more of an argument on whether the very rich should enjoy escaping the capital-gains tax
or, indeed, the prohibition on the unethical kickbacks that physicians receive from ownership of hospitals, most of which are of questionable safety and quality.
In other words, according to Stark, physicians are unethical and physician hospitals are not safe. The fact that such rhetoric regarding physician hospitals continues to surface even in the face of facts supporting the opposite conclusion, is a true tribute to the strength of the American Hospital Association special-interest lobby and to the determination of a few elected officials to rid healthcare of any entity in which physicians may have a proprietary interest.
Regarding Starks comment on the ethics of physicians, I am pleased to report that it is the ethical nature of the physicians with whom I have personally worked, which has prompted them to seek ownership and, thus, control of their hospitals.
The entrepreneurial physicians who own hospitals understand that quality of care, patient satisfaction and cost are all directly affected by the basic relationships that exist between providers and patients. Substantive changes benefiting patient care can be achieved by simply getting back to the basics of medicine and allowing physicians and nurses to do their jobs.
While physicians have been taking much needed steps toward reform, the AHA and other general hospital groups have done very little to better the current system.
Physician hospitals are a working demonstration of the higher-quality care that can be achieved when physicians are allowed to make decisions regarding hospital business and when staff is given the ability to provide the personalized attention patients need. I sincerely hope that Congress and the new administration recognize this fact, stop listening to the rhetoric and choose to save our physician hospitals.
Physician Hospitals of America
Sioux Falls, S.D.