Physicians and Patients Head to Washington D.C. to Lobby for Increased Patient Access

As 30 Million Americans are Added to Healthcare System, Congress to Decide if Physician-Owned Hospitals Can Expand to Meet Patient Need

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| Source: Physician Hospitals of America

WASHINGTON, Feb. 13, 2012 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Physicians and patients will descend upon Washington, D.C., Wednesday and Thursday in an effort to persuade Congress to revise Section 6001 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) to allow expansion of current physician-owned hospitals (POHs) to meet patient demand.

In December 2011, the House of Representatives, in a bi-partisan effort, provided relief from Section 6001 as part of the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act. Neither the Senate's version of the bill nor the final short-term extension contained Section 6001 relief. The final outcome will be dependent upon decisions by the Conference Committee to H.R. 3630 this month.

"Physician-owned hospitals increase patient access to high-quality care at lower costs – the very goal of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act," says John W. Dietz, Jr., MD, Chairman, Board of Managers of Indiana Orthopaedic Hospital in Indianapolis. "Our hospitals should be held up as the model for delivering superior, efficient care. Instead, we and our patients are being restricted."

Shelly Martin of Tyler, Tex., will be traveling to Washington to voice her support for physician-owned hospitals. Local community hospitals denied Martin, who is uninsured, comprehensive care for a painful back injury that left her confined to a wheel chair. After six years of suffering, Martin received diagnostic care as well as a multi-level spinal fusion surgery free of charge through a charitable program at Texas Spine and Joint Hospital in Tyler, Tex.

"I had the best care at Texas Sine and Joint Hospital," says Martin. "It's not about money, or insurance, or bureaucracy there. It's about the patient and helping them feel better and improving their life and well being. They cared about me."

According to the government's own data, (HCAHPS, Hospital Compare) as well as benchmarking firms CTQ Solutions and Press Ganey, POHs rank among the top in the nation for patient satisfaction and quality measures. In total, there are 265 POHs and despite their presence in only 33 states, Consumer Reports ranked them first in 20 states.

POHs provide patients much-needed access to care in many communities. A recent Oxford Outcomes study found that of the 46 counties with POHs, 26 counties (56%) have hospital bed capacity below the national average, and in some cases the shortfall is large. For example, California, Michigan, and Utah have statewide median beds per capita below the national average. Thirty million Americans will be added to the nation's healthcare system under the PPACA, further burdening the system. Of the states analyzed by Oxford Outcomes, PPACA is expected to increase Medicaid enrollment by at least 22% (Pennsylvania) and as much as 58% (California).

"Physician-owned hospitals give patients choice and access to high-quality care," says Dr. Michael Russell, President of the Physician Hospitals of America (PHA). "As more and more people start utilizing the healthcare system, we need increased access to high performing hospitals. Section 6001 restricts that access."

Physicians Hospitals of America organized this Congressional outreach effort.

Media Contact
Kristen Allen
CCO Healthcare Partners
312.961.4745
kma@ccopartners.com

About Physician Hospitals of America

PHA offers support, advocacy and educational services to the physician owned hospital industry, reflecting at all times the best interests of patients, physicians and other providers who play an inextricable and essential role in the provision of healthcare services. There are currently 275 physician owned hospitals serving patients in 33 states. These hospitals include general acute care, long term acute care, emergency medicine, multi-specialty, women's, children's, rehabilitation and psychiatric. According to its HCAHPS survey data, physician owned hospitals rank first for patient satisfaction in 20 states. For more information visit: www.phapulse.org.

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