“The fundamental problem with physician-owned specialty hospitals is that decision-making is more likely driven by financial interests rather than what is best for patients” These are not my words even though I have expressed this same thought many times. They come from a U.S. Senator, Chuck Grassley, who happens to be a Republican.
Three lawmakers have asked CMS for information on Medicare reimbursements to West Texas Hospital, a physician-owned specialty hospital, during an 18-month moratorium on payments to such facilities after a patient entered respiratory arrest and died last month as a result of complications from elective spinal surgery performed at the hospital, CQ HealthBeat reports (CQ HealthBeat, 2/9).
According to the Houston Chronicle, the lawmakers — Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus (D-Mont.), committee ranking member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee Chair Pete Stark (D-Calif.) — “have seized on the bewildering Texas case to bolster their contention that some physician-owned hospitals skimp on basic medical care to boost profits.”
The patient, 44-year-old Steve Spivey, underwent spinal disk fusion surgery at West Texas and entered respiratory arrest several hours later. West Texas staff, who could not help Spivey, called 911, and an ambulance transferred him to Abilene Regional Medical Center, where he died (Roth, Houston Chronicle, 2/10). In a letter to acting CMS Administrator Leslie Norwalk, the lawmakers wrote that the federal government “clearly must take action and ensure that physician-owned facilities that hold themselves out to the public as ‘hospitals’ have the requisite staff and abilities to ensure that basic lifesaving measures can be employed” (CQ HealthBeat, 2/9).
Baucus in a statement said, “It seems to me that if you call a place a hospital, it should have facilities to handle an emergency, but all this facility could do was call 911.” Grassley said, “The fundamental problem with physician-owned specialty hospitals is that decision-making is more likely driven by financial interests rather than what is best for patients” (Houston Chronicle, 2/10).