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Efforts to limit doctor-owned hospitals

Democrats in Congress are pushing to limit the growth of doctor-owned hospitals.  They are relying on research which confirms that the inherent conflict of interest involved in doctors admitting patients to a profit-making hospital in which they own a stake, results in more expensive care.  In this situation, some doctors will always order some degree of unnecessary care or services.  The American Hospital Association agrees with the measure, and also points out that many of these specialized "hospitals" do not provide adequate emergency care or other services in the event of complications.  They simply reduce the economies of scale and service applicable to institutions (usually non-profit) which serve the general population.

Unfortunately, some Democratic leaders in Congress have taken the opportunity to exempt hospitals in their own districts through earmarking.  Conservative Republicans have also generally refused to pass this legislation because it restricts freedom of commerce.  They refuse to recognize the added expense or conflict of interest complications involved.  In the past ten months, related legislation has passed the House or Senate on  three separate occasions, but has yet to make it through the legislative process.  President Bush disagrees with the proposal.

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