We Need More Health Care Choices – Not Fewer!

September 24, 2009

I strongly believe that choice is the solution to many of the issues that plague the current health care debate. Consumers with choices drive prices to the appropriate level while fostering the development of better products and services. By making a choice, consumers give a precise answer to the question of what Americans really want today. Consumers have overwhelmingly made a choice that physician hospitals offer them the quality and care that they want. Why would we consider limiting this choice in the pending health care reform legislation?

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The health care reform bill now being considered in the Finance Committee would deny Medicare beneficiaries access to the best in hospital care by limiting the operation and growth of physician hospitals. For seniors seeking the finest in orthopedic or cardiac care, physician hospitals are an obvious first choice. Physician hospitals offer the best in patient care, and rate far higher than most of the big chain and so-called "community" hospitals they compete against. Study after study proves that the smaller physician hospitals provide a higher nurse to patient ratio, more physician control of hospital operations, and minimal patient disruption during recovery. 

A recent (August 2009) Consumer Reports study, involving more than one million hospital patients nationwide, ranked physician hospitals as the number one hospital in 19 states, and near the top in the other states in which they operate. One federally mandated quality study done by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) showed that patients rated physician hospitals 37 points higher than the national average, while another federal study of physician hospitals found the length of stay was anywhere from 17 percent to 31 percent shorter at specialty hospitals than at their community counterparts. (More detailed information on hospital quality studies can be found in the "health" section at consumerreports.org or in the paper "Why America Needs More Physicians Hospitals" at seniorsforcures.org.)

Responsible Senators must stand up for better care, and oppose the rationing of Medicare hospital benefits at physician hospitals. We must realize as we talk about health care reform that the legislation that is enacted, the regulations that are established and government bureaucracies that are built are difficult to rescind, remove and dismantle. That's the problem with government solutions -- they don't respond quickly to change. The health care reform decisions that are made now will impact us for 10 or 20 or more years. It has been shown over and over again that free choice and the ability of Americans to respond quickly to change have both been important parts of our economic heritage, and are even more critical to our economic future in a fast changing world.

We need more of these outstanding facilities to serve the growing millions of older Americans on Medicare. Health care reform would deny our seniors access to new physician hospitals, and put the ones we now have out of business. Clearly the Finance Committee or the Senate should act to strike the physician hospital limitation language from the health care reform bill.

We ask you to
please take our survey concerning physician hospitals. We think it is important for you to know about physician hospitals and to make your feelings known to those who are making these important decisions that ultimately will affect your choices in health care. The legislative choices made today have the power to affect our lives for decades, and I think those choices shouldn't be made without our input. At least that's the way I see it.

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