Physician Hospitals of America says that by supporting the Republican opponent of the junior senator from Montana, it's hoping to send a message to the state's senior senator, Democrat Max Baucus, that "anti-competitive healthcare" will no longer be tolerated.
The PHA, an association for physician-owned hospitals, is backing GOP Congressman Denny Rehberg over Democratic incumbent John Tester in the Senate race and is planning to host a breakfast fundraiser for him in Austin, Texas, on Sept. 22—the morning after it concludes its annual conference. The PHA also hopes to slice away at the Democrats' Senate majority helping to keep Baucus in the Senate Finance Committee chairman's seat.
In an e-mailed news release promoting the Rehberg fundraiser, the PHA says Baucus "has time and time again blocked the necessary reform needed to provide relief for physician-owned hospitals." The group has been at odds with Baucus for several years over the senator's opposition to physician-owned hospitals.
Since the PHA was unable to get rid of Section 6001 through litigation, the strategy makes sense—but doctors don't always get what they want from politicians they support.
Case in point: Jim Bunning, the Hall of Fame baseball pitcher and former GOP senator from Kentucky who was re-elected 51-49 in 2004 thanks in part to the financial support he received from physicians to defeat another physician, surgeon Daniel Mongiardo. Six years later, Bunning was filibustering to allow a 21.2% Medicare physician payment cut called for by the sustainable growth-rate reimbursement formula.