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Monday, March 10, 2008

HOUSE PASSES GOOD BILL WITH BAD PART

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a needed bill to ensure parity for mental health coverage in insurance benefits. But it includes stark restrictions on physicians’ rights to own or invest in hospitals and other facilities, based on a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) assertion that such restrictions will save money. “We ask CBO to prove up its assumptions and numbers or permanently remove them as a purported budget savings,” Dr. Hinchey said in a letter to the Texas congressional delegation. “As the saying goes in Texas, it is time for the CBO to put up or shut up.” A similar bill passed the Senate without the ownership language. We expect opponents of physician ownership to attach similar provisions to other bills that medicine otherwise supports. We will continue to oppose that kind of legislative blackmail.

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