Physicians at McBride Orthopedic Hospital had ambitious plans for their Oklahoma City hospital before Obamacare. Two new operating rooms and a four-bed intensive-care unit were part of a multimillion-dollar expansion project that promised to bring competition and more health care choices to the community.
But once President Obama's signature was dry on the 2,409-page Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, so, too, was the McBride project. The recently enacted law imposed a series of new federal regulations on physician-owned hospitals, including an immediate ban on expansion.
"We pulled the plug when the law was signed," McBride Chief Executive MarkGalliart said. "We were ready to break ground. We had everything approved by the state. We had the construction agreement in place. We were going to meet our timeline until the legislation passed."
Within days of enactment of the new law, developers across the country nixed plans for 24 new physician-owned hospitals under construction. It will be a struggle for an additional 47 new such hospitals under construction to meet an Obamacare-imposed deadline of Dec. 31 to be finished and have their Medicare certification.
Galliart is now preparing McBride for other onerous requirements imposed by Obamacare on the nation's 260 physician-owned hospitals. In addition to limits on expansion and new construction, the law restricts new investments, requires new annual reports to the government and sets fines for hospitals that fail to abide by transparency rules.
Imagine if the government owned General Motors and the Congress passed a bill that barred Ford from producing "any new cars and couldn't expand on its existing cars," Galliart said. "What other industry would put up with this? If we were spending money recklessly and harming people, that's one thing. But physician-owned hospitals are doing it better and more efficiently."
First appeared in The Examiner