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Ethics should drive health policy reform, especially with physician-owned specialty hospitals
Date:6/20/2012

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- The ethical principles that have for centuries shaped the relationship between patient and physician should also guide legislators, regulators -- and justices of the highest court -- charged with crafting U.S. health care policies that demarcate the boundaries of a physician's business practice, an Indiana University professor argues.

This is all the more pressing with the "creeping commercialization" that now characterizes medicine in the form of physician-owned specialty hospitals, according to an analysis published in the June issue of the American Business Law Journal.

Some of the clearest examples of these ethical considerations are the reforms to the physician-owned specialty-hospital industry enacted in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, argues legal scholar and ethicist Joshua Perry, assistant professor of business law and ethics at the IU Kelley School of Business.

Perry argues the PPACA legislation could have gone further and completely banned physician-owned hospitals. Short of that, his article provides justification for the aggressive regulation of physician-owned hospitals contained in the PPACA.

"Ethics are the bedrock of health care, the root of total trust between physician and patient and what makes health care unique among economic enterprises," Perry said. "But rising tides of commercialization have eroded longstanding, ethics-based self-regulation and internal constraints. As systemic complexities related to cost, quality and access are debated, ethics deserve a seat at the table where policies are being argued."

The PPACA legislation prohibits new or expanded physician-owned specialty hospitals from filing Medicare claims if a financial relationship exists between the referring physician and the hospital receiving the government reimbursement, among other regulations designed to promote transparency, fair competition and patient safety. However, no such r
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Contact: George Vlahakis
vlahakis@iu.edu
812-855-0846
Indiana University
Source:Eurekalert

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