Opponents back down from battle over $19.2M Iowa ASC

State regulators granted Steindler Clinic's planned $19.2 million ASC in Iowa City, Iowa, a certificate of need after a last-minute withdrawal of all opposition to the facility, The Gazette reported March 7.

Opposition to the surgery center, slated for completion in November 2023, initially included the University of Iowa Health Care, Johnson County Surgical Investors and Iowa City Ambulatory Surgical Center. 

The group of providers previously urged state officials to deny Steindler's request to build an ASC, arguing the project was unnecessary and unlawful because 13 of the clinic's physicians are also part owners of JCSI and signed an agreement that prohibits them from working for or investing in a competitor. JCSI had said it would enforce those noncompete agreements to block the ASC if necessary.

In addition, UIHC argued in January that the "construction of six new ambulatory (operating rooms) would duplicate existing, not fully utilized capacity at Mercy Iowa City," according to The Gazette.

However, Iowa City Ambulatory Surgical Center and JCSI withdrew their opposition to the ASC one hour before the March 7 hearing on Steindler's application. Although UIHC did not formally withdraw its application, it did not have a representative present to speak at the hearing.

The State Health Facilities Council questioned the last-minute change of heart of the opposition to the ASC.

An attorney representing Steindler Clinic told the council the "parties have reached a resolution" but could not expand on what the parties agreed to because of "confidentiality provisions," according to the report.

Steindler Clinic surgeons said they will continue to perform procedures such as joint replacements at Iowa City Ambulatory Surgical Center until 2024, a couple of months after the new ASC opens. Work on the facility is set to begin in June or July.

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