Obamacare wounds doctor-owned hospitals

Sioux Falls Specialty Hospital in South Dakota is regularly full. Its doctors and nurses often have to work longer hours or perform elective surgeries such as hip or knee replacements on weekends.

“In many cases, patients have to wait forever,” said Dr. R. Blake Curd, an orthopedic surgeon and the hospital’s CEO. “We don’t have the physical capacity to take care of them.”

He would like to expand the hospital by adding beds or rooms, but he isn’t allowed to do so because of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. The law largely bans the expansion of hospitals such as Curd’s, which are partly owned by doctors. New physician-owned hospitals also cannot be set up unless they forego government reimbursement from Medicare or Medicaid.

For many other types of hospitals, such as community and for-profit hospitals, the passage of Obamacare injected more money into the healthcare system by expanding health insurance to more than 20 million people. This meant hospitals did not have to provide as much uncompensated care as they used to, and many of them flourished.

But physician-owned hospitals, 250 facilities across 33 states, are dwarfed by the 5,000 public or for-profit hospitals. And Obamacare is crushing them.

Federal regulations can damage the healthcare industry’s bottom line in many ways. They limit the use and nature of telemedicine. Small, rural hospitals have struggled to achieve the efficiencies Obamacare demanded from them. Because they must stick to specific federal guidelines for electronic health records, individual practices have been overwhelmed and bought up by larger healthcare systems. As with many regulations, compliance costs are too much for the smaller businesses. One of the most stark examples of how these regulations have affected a business’s bottom line comes from Obamacare’s effect on doctor-owned hospitals.

Read more of this Washington Examiner article by Kimberly Leonard by clicking here.