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Lankford, Colleagues Push for Greater Health Care Access for Oklahomans, the Nation

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK Senator James Lankford (R-OK) and his colleagues today announced the reintroduction of the Patient Access to Higher Quality Health Care Act, which removes the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) ban on the creation and expansion of new physician-owned hospitals (POHs) and allows POHs to participate in Medicare and Medicaid. Lifting this ban will increase competition among hospitals, decrease costs, and expand access to quality care for more Americans, especially those with Medicare and Medicaid. Lankford serves on the Senate Finance Committee with jurisdiction over Medicare and Medicaid and serves on the Health Care Subcommittee.

“It is clear we need more options and innovation in health care, not less,” said Lankford. “The Affordable Care Act unfairly prohibits the creation and expansion of physician-owned hospitals, reducing yet another health care access point for Oklahomans and people around the country, particularly those on Medicare and Medicaid. My bill removes the ACA’s ban on POHs and allows them to offer innovative services that can be tailored to meet patients’ needs. We can and should increase healthcare access, help reduce costs, and ensure Oklahomans have healthcare options for their medical needs.” 

“We thank Senator Lankford and the original sponsors of S.470 for introducing this critically important legislation which will eliminate the arbitrary ban on physicians owning hospitals,” said Frederic Liss, MD, President, Physician-Led Healthcare for America. “Now more than ever, we need to introduce competition into our healthcare market in order to help reverse the dramatic cost escalations and hospital bed insufficiencies being exacerbated by our health system rapidly consolidating into monopsonies. Senator Lankford’s vision offers an immediate healthcare solution that would increase patient access to the well documented high quality, lower cost services provided by physician-led hospitals in rural, suburban and urban settings. We call on Congress to act, and harness the potential that the physician-led healthcare community represents, on behalf of the needs of patients, rather than the anti-competition-based opposition of the status quo.”

“Physician-led hospitals meet community needs by focusing on the most important relationship in health care—the patient-physician relationship. Yet, the combination of current law and hospital consolidation is making these success stories rare. We welcome Sen. Lankford’s bill that would re-introduce competition and protect compassionate health care delivery. After witnessing hospital closures—especially in rural areas—patients must wonder what Congress is doing about it. It’s good to see Senator Lankford has provided an answer that Congress should pass this year,” said American Medical Association President Jack Resneck Jr., MD.

Lankford is joined in introducing the bill by Senators Roger Marshall, MD (R-KS), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Todd Young (R-IN), Tom Cotton (R-AR), John Boozman (R-AR), Bill Cassidy, MD (R-LA), John Barrasso, MD (R-WY), Rand Paul, MD (R-KY), John Cornyn (R-TX), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Mike Lee (R-UT), and Markwayne Mullin (R-OK). Representative Michael Burgess, MD (R-TX) is leading the bill’s introduction in the House of Representatives.

POHs represent less than five percent of the 5,700 hospitals nationwide. However, POHs have a successful track record of providing individualized and innovative quality care, and they meet a growing demand for health care services, especially in rural areas. Seventy-three percent of POHs with a Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) overall hospital quality star rating earned three or more stars in the program; 26 percent of them have earned five stars.

This week, Lankford and Dr. Brian J. Miller published an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal about the importance of including physician-owned hospitals in the litany of quality nonprofit and community-based health care options available to Oklahomans and people around the nation.