Sen. Feinstein Aims To Exempt Hospital From Reform Law Provision
On Sunday, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) pledged to pursue a waiver that would exempt Loma Linda University Medical Center from a provision in the federal health reform law that bans new physician-owned hospitals from participating in Medicare, the Riverside Press-Enterprise reports.
Feinstein spoke at the construction site of LLUMC in Murrieta. The nearly completed $211 million hospital is a joint venture of Loma Linda and Physicians Group of Murrieta.
Reform Law Provision
According to the reform law provision, doctor-owned hospitals that have not received Medicare certification by Dec. 31 will be prohibited from participating in the program.
Some critics have said that doctor-owned hospitals create improper incentives because they enable physicians to refer more lucrative patients to their hospitals.
However, Feinstein said the health reform law did not intend to prevent full-service hospitals like LLUMC from opening. She said the provision targeted smaller, specialized hospitals.
Feinstein said she would seek a meeting with Senate Finance Committee ChairÂ Max Baucus (D-Mont.) about securing a federal waiver for LLUMC.
Regardless of whether LLUMC obtains the waiver, the facility is expected to open as scheduled in March.
However, if LLUMC does not receive a waiver, Loma Linda would need to take over Physicians Group of Murrieta's 45% ownership stake.
Loma Linda officials said taking over the ownership share would require significant funds and could lead to possible budget cuts (Hill, Riverside Press-Enterprise, 11/7). ÂThis is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.