Physician businessmen and businesswomen battling the hospital lobby's continued effort to ban physician ownership of hospitals and other medical facilities would be wise to point out to lawmakers the biggest hole in hospitals' rhetoric. If physicians can't own hospitals, why can hospitals own physicians?
A number of stories in this issue of Modern Physician document the renewed effort by hospitals across the country to selectively acquire physician practices to increase patient volume. (It's the same self-serving motive hospitals assign to physician entrepreneurs in an effort to disparage their business plans.)
As frequent Modern Physician contributor Linda Wilson reports in this issue's Top Story, hospitals in Connecticut successfully lobbied for a change in state law that removes a legislative barrier to hospitals buying physician practices. Prior to the new law, which took effect on July 1, Connecticut hospitals could own physician practices, but the physicians were required to work within a hospital facility. Now, hospitals there will be able to create new medical foundations that could employ physicians who would be free to practice in any setting.
This issue's Recapping the News section features two stories about big hospital systems buying large physician practices. In South Carolina, the Roper St. Francis Healthcare system acquired a 62-physician practice. And in Illinois, the Advocate Health Care system brought a 60-physician practice into the fold through its affiliated Advocate Medical Group.
This issue's Feature is devoted to our 16th annual Physician Compensation Report that tells physicians how much they should ask for when hospitals want to buy them out and make them employees.
The hospital lobby likes to talk about general acute-care hospitals not being able to compete with physician-owned hospitals on a level playing field because physicians have the upper hand. If hospitals really wanted a level playing field, they should agree to stop buying physician practices in exchange for a ban on physician ownership of hospitals and other medical facilities.
Better yet, both sides should be able to own anything and compete freely to improve quality, expand access and control costs. It's time to stop the hypocrisy.
David BurdaEditorModern Physician Submit a letter to the Modern Physician Reader Blog. Please include your name, title, company and hometown. Modern Physician reserves the right to edit all submissions.