HHS Secretary Alex Azar commits to support changes to physician-owned hospital ban

HHS Secretary Alex Azar testified in front of the House Ways and Means Committee about the effects of the Bipartisan Budget Act on healthcare.


During the hearing, Rep. Sam Johnson, R-Texas, inquired about Mr. Azar's feeling on physician-owned hospitals. For the first question in the hearing, Mr. Johnson asked Mr. Azar whether he believed the ban eliminated competition, to which Mr. Azar replied, "Yes, I believe physician-owned hospitals can provide effective competition from other hospitals."

Mr. Azar then went on to agree physician-owned hospitals provide high-quality care and said, "We ought to be inspiring competition among hospitals."

To end his line of questioning, Mr. Johnson asked Mr. Azar to commit to working with him on repealing the ban on physician-owned hospitals. Mr. Azar replied, "So I commit to working with you on any changes that we can make to ensure that we are allowing good competition and allowing physician-owned or other owned facilities to deliver the highest quality, low-cost service to our beneficiaries, so I'm very happy to work with you."

Mr. Johnson's home state of Texas includes the most physician-owned hospitals in the U.S. Last May, Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., introduced legislation into the Senate that would improve access to physician-owned hospitals, and Mr. Johnson introduced similar legislation in the House. The bill would have lifted restrictions on forming and expanding physician-owned hospitals.


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