Modern Healthcare magazine printed an article in the Aug. 4, 2008 issue that discussed the legislation Sen. Grassley introduced to address “tweener” payment inequity. There was our word, “tweener,” used in the article as well as our definition, “a hospital that is too large to be considered a Critical Access Hospital and too small to be a Rural Referral Hospital.” While we weren’t specifically mentioned, they clearly interviewed a member of Sen. Grassley’s staff.
Also in this issue was a very critical editorial written by David Burda, editor of Modern Healthcare. This editorial stated that this legislation to help tweener hospitals was “special-interest legislation of the worst kind.” The editor slammed the American Hospital Association for applauding Senator Grassley for his commitment to rural healthcare providers. In order to pay for the proposed new Medicare Part A classification, Grassley’s bill would restrict the number of physician-owned hospitals.
We don’t have many physician-owned hospitals in Iowa. There’s a clear for-profit financial benefit for a physician who orders tests and procedures done at the hospital he or she owns. The Congressional Budget Office indicates physician-owned specialty hospitals cost Medicare more than community-owned hospitals and are therefore a reasonable target for reducing Medicare spending and making payment to tweeners more equitable. We clearly have no beef with physicians…they are our hospital every bit as much as our employees, volunteers and board members. It is the doctors and profit minded investors that only build hospitals that provide the best reimbursed services, in essence skimming the profits on only well paid services and leaving the rest for the community hospitals. The competition would be welcomed if it was a level playing field and the physician owned specialty hospitals took all patients and offered the full range of hospitals services. Do you see specialty hospitals offering neonatal intensive care or burn services or even trauma services…only orthopedic, cardiac and imaging hospitals. If you are interested in reading the editorial from Modern Healthcare and our letter to the editor in response please email Denise Lamphier in our public relations department.
We continue to make efforts to make sure we get paid fairly. In addition to Senator Grassley’s bill which was supported by Senator Harkin as well, we have worked with Congressman Boswell to offer a companion bill in the House of Representatives. There are only three short weeks left in this Congress so the window is tight for getting something done this year…but we are hopeful!
I will keep you posted.
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