Parties involved in a federal lawsuit in Texas that seeks to strike a section of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that puts restrictions on physician hospital ownership are now asking the judge hearing their case to recognize the ruling of a federal judge in Florida who declared the entire healthcare reform law unconstitutional.
PHA, Texas hospital seek summary judgment in hospital-ownership suit
Physician Hospitals of America and the Texas Spine and Joint Hospital of Tyler are awaiting a decision from U.S. District Judge Michael Schneider in Tyler, who announced Nov. 24 that the trial, which was scheduled to begin Dec. 9, was "unnecessary” after listening to arguments on the government's motion to dismiss and motion for summary judgment.
Schneider also ruled that his court did have jurisdiction in the case and that, although the law's restrictions had a retroactive effect on construction projects already in progress, it did not violate the plaintiff's due process rights nor did it amount to a “constitutional taking.”
On Feb. 1, PHA and Texas Spine and Joint Hospital filed a Notice of Supplemental Authority requesting that Schneider adopt the Florida decision. They also announced that on Feb. 4, they intend to file a motion for leave to strike the government's summary judgment motion and enter summary judgment for them.
Doctor-owned Texas Spine and Joint Hospital opened in 2002 and was in the middle of a $35 million renovation project to expand to 10 operating rooms from seven and to 40 inpatient beds from 20 when the reform law passed and stopped expansion of all existing physician-owned hospitals.
“The momentum we've seen over the past few weeks in Virginia, Washington, D.C., and Florida gives us reason to believe patients will soon regain their ability to choose the highest quality, most efficient care offered at physician hospitals across the country,” PHA President Dr. Michael Russell said in a news release.
In its rules developed to implement the reform law, the CMS is allowing for perhaps more flexibility than expected for physician-owned institutions to expand. According to the rules, “capacity” is capped at the aggregate number of operating rooms, procedure rooms and beds a facility was licensed for on March 23, 2010. So, for example, more operating rooms can be added if the same number of procedure rooms or beds is eliminated.
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