Physician Hospitals of America announced that it will appeal a U.S. District Court's ruling against its lawsuit contending that restrictions on physician-owned hospitals in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act are unconstitutional.
PHA plans to appeal doc-owned hospitals ruling
The PHA board voted on the evening of April 21 but just revealed its decision today, explaining that it wanted PHA members to hear about the decision from its board and not through the media, PHA spokeswoman Leslie Fossey said.
U.S. District Judge Michael Schneider in Tyler granted the federal government's motion for summary judgment on March 31, finding that Congress had the right to stop expansions of physician-owned hospitals—even with regard to construction projects already in progress, such as the $35 million expansion taking place at Texas Spine & Joint Hospital, the PHA's co-plaintiff in its lawsuit.
"The court concludes that Congress did not act unconstitutionally and thus it is not the function of the court to determine the wisdom of this congressional action," Schneider wrote.
While the hospital, also based in Tyler, and the PHA argued that the healthcare reform law's restrictions on physician-owned hospitals amounted to a retroactive taking of private property, Schneider wrote that the only value the plaintiffs had lost under the law was "the ability to bill Medicare for self-referred patients" and that this "does not constitute an impermissible taking."
Dr. Michael Russell, president of the PHA and a partner with Texas Spine & Joint Hospital, said the restrictions placed on Medicare reimbursement are at the heart of this dispute, and he added that Schneider's ruling didn't address that issue.
"It doesn't look like this ruling will allow Medicare patients to have access to the best care available," said Russell, an orthopedic surgeon. "So I think we're going to continue to fight and do what we can about that."
The PHA has 60 days from Schneider's March 31 ruling to file its appeal.
Send us a letter
Have an opinion about this story? Click here to submit a Letter to the Editor, and we may publish it in print.