Health care reform: Good news, bad news, and politics

May 1, 2010

As part of reform, It is clear that the government is starting to tighten control of physician-owned ancillary services.

First, the good news:

The good news-bad news:

We are just starting to find out what else is hiding in the bill's 2,000-plus pages. Section 6003 of the bill addresses physician ownership and disclosure requirements for certain imaging services. If you own a CT scanner, you are now required to notify patients that they have the option to go elsewhere for their scan.

It is clear that the government is starting to tighten control of physician-owned ancillary services. This is wrong, and we need to fight it.

Changes in the bill will come from political pressure. Senators Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Max Baucus (D-MT) are already asking Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to change the requirement that all criteria be met to qualify for payment under the health information technology part of the law. They urged abandoning the so-called all-or-nothing approach that would require providers to meet all Stage 1 criteria to be eligible for any financial incentives under the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act.

We can certainly expect to hear more about political pressure aimed at challenging this historic new law. Political pressure is the only way to change the law. Stay tuned.

Dr. Gee, a member of the Urology Times Editorial Council, is in private practice in Lexington, KY.