What is a Physician Hospital
Physician ownership of hospitals has a long and distinguished history in the United States. Virtually all of the great medical clinics in this country were started by physicians who owned them and set a standard of excellence that carries on today. The Mayo clinic is a good example. The resurgence of interest in physician ownership grew from a realization that medical care was no longer under the control of the people who provided the care, but dominated by administrators, bureaucrats, and medical conglomerates who had lost sight of the real task - taking care of people who are sick or injured. Physician ownership puts control back where it belongs - with doctors and their patients.
Physician hospitals can be fully or partially physician owned, and some are partnerships between larger hospitals and doctors. Physician hospitals include general acute care facilities, multispecialty facilities (children's, women's, and surgical), as well as longterm and rehabilitation facilities. They also include single-specialty physician hospitals (32 of the 220 total) which offer orthopedic and cardiology care that is clearly among the best in the nation. That is especially important to seniors. Most importantly, physician hospitals offer patients and doctors choices beyond those offered at large community hospitals and often provide a higher quality of personalized care. For patients, these differences are of the utmost importance.
The relatively small number of physician hospitals now in service - only 220 compared to about 6,000 community hospitals – makes them a frequent political target. As the Consumer Reports study cited above highlights, hospitals that are run by physicians have often been shown to run more efficiently and have higher-quality patient outcomes than those run by administrators. When physician hospitals first began popping up in larger numbers - about 10 years ago - there was little empirical evidence of their value. Over the last decade there have been continuous attacks on them by the large general hospital lobby determined to thwart any competition.
Remember, hospitals are the heart of America's health care industry, consuming almost one-third of the nation's $2 trillion annual health care bill. Most of those hospitals belong to the American Hospital Association (AHA), which represents thousands of the big chain and community hospitals. These general hospital giants fight tooth and nail against the newer, higher-quality competition provided by physician hospitals.
According to a recent Washington Post story, the AHA has already spent more than $7 million on lobbying in 2009, and handed out over $2 million to Congressional candidates in the last election cycle, including contributions to some of the most prominent players in the health care reform effort. Before the public AHA deal with the Administration was announced in July, the AHA President was a frequent visitor to the White House, again according to the Washington Post. It appears another deal may have been struck, one which will effectively ration and deny quality hospital care for most seniors by restricting their access to physician hospitals. It seems AHA lobbyists have become more important than millions of Medicare beneficiaries seeking the best in hospital care.