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Monday, February 16, 2009

TMA Legislative Issue Brief: Ownership of Health Care Facilities and Equipment

Texas’ health care delivery system has changed dramatically over the past decade. Life-saving technologies and treatments, and the types of settings in which patients receive services have proliferated. Physicians, hospitals, and other entities have invested extensively in these technologies and settings. While physician investment in the health care system is not new, health care financing and coverage have changed considerably over the past decade. These changes drive the debate over who can invest in a facility.

Texas is the uninsured capital of America, creating competition for a dwindling supply of paying patients. Rather than limiting patient choice, Texas should focus on increasing health insurance coverage and assuring high-quality care regardless of setting or ownership dynamics. The Texas Association of Business and many hospitals have been trying to restrict physician ownership of facilities and equipment.

Medicine’s 2009 Agenda
  • Ensure that responsible ownership, whether by a physician or hospital, is patient-centered and includes a commitment to appropriate peer review of utilization, quality, and safety to ensure the highest quality care.
  • Promote transparent transactions, governance, and ownership by physicians, allied health providers, and hospitals alike. Disclosure should apply to all financial relationships, such as investors, employed physicians, and paid directorships.

Medicine’s Message

  • Physician-owned hospitals are not new. Physicians founded many of the nation’s first hospitals to ensure appropriate care for their patients.
  • Physicians have an obligation to advance improvements in the diagnosis, treatment, and care of patients, including innovations in medical technology.
  • Referrals to a physician-owned entity or entity in which the physician has a financial relationship must be based on the patient’s medical needs.
  • Physician-owned entities should adhere to all state and federal regulations; provide appropriate credentialing of physicians, and clinical and support staff; monitor utilization and quality; and adhere to relevant TMA and American Medical Association ethical guidelines.

Check out the Doctor’s Orders video to get a more complete view of TMA’s 2009 legislative agenda. You can see all of TMA’s 2009 legislative issue briefs on the TMA Web site.

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