Ne­braska freezes construction applications, li­censes un­til Sept. 2011

State not ac­cept­ing applications till Septem­ber 2011

Modern Healthcare - - Front Page -

Or­ga­ni­za­tions seek­ing to build a new hospi­tal in Ne­braska shouldn’t even think about it un­til af­ter Sept. 15, 2011. Un­der leg­is­la­tion sup­ported by the Ne­braska Hospi­tal As­so­ci­a­tion and signed April 14 by Gov. Dave Heine­man, the state of Ne­braska is not ac­cept­ing applications for or is­su­ing li­censes to any new hospi­tal be­tween April 15, 2010, and Sept. 15, 2011.

There are, how­ever, two no­table ex­cep­tions: The state will con­tinue to ac­cept applications and is­sue li­censes for crit­i­cal-ac­cess hos­pi­tals and will also is­sue li­censes for hos­pi­tals that be­gan or will be­gin construction be­fore May 1 of this year.

The bill also calls for the Health and Hu­man Ser­vices Com­mit­tee of the state’s non­par­ti­san, one-house Leg­is­la­ture to study Ne­braska’s health­care land­scape and re­port its find­ings by Dec. 31, 2010. The new law calls for the study to com­pare the roles of Ne­braska’s gen­eral acute-care hos­pi­tals, crit­i­cal-ac­cess hos­pi­tals, am­bu­la­tory surgery cen­ters, physi­cian-owned hos­pi­tals and other “lim­ited ser­vice fa­cil­i­ties” re­gard­ing ac­cess, qual­ity and costs to Med­i­caid and in­sur­ance pre­mi­ums; re­fer­ral prac­tices; own­er­ship dis­clo­sure; un­com­pen­sated and un­der-com­pen­sated care; ex­am­i­na­tion and def­i­ni­tion of com­mu­nity ben­e­fits; and the im­pact of fed­eral health­care re­form.

The bill orig­i­nally called for a two-year mora­to­rium but was even­tu­ally short­ened so that it would end in Septem­ber of next year.

Ac­cord­ing to the law’s leg­isla­tive spon­sor, state Sen. Kathy Camp­bell of Lin­coln, be­tween 1979 and 1997, Ne­braska re­quired a cer­tifi­cate of need for new hos­pi­tals, but she “doesn’t en­vi­sion that we would go back to cer­tifi­cate of need.”

Construction be­gan last month on the 40bed Kear­ney (Neb.) Re­gional Med­i­cal Cen­ter, which is be­ing built by some 40 physi­cian in­vestors. Ne­go­ti­a­tions are un­der way for a pos­si­ble part­ner­ship with the Catholic Health Ini­tia­tives-owned 208-bed Good Sa­mar­i­tan Health Sys­tems hospi­tal also in Kear­ney.

Al­though Camp­bell said the leg­is­la­tion was not fo­cused on Kear­ney, the Ne­braska Hospi­tal As­so­ci­a­tion’s sup­port of the mea­sure was largely based on its op­po­si­tion to physi­cian-owned hos­pi­tals.

“NHA mem­ber hos­pi­tals sup­port the twoyear mora­to­rium in­cluded in LB 999 be­cause there are many unan­swered ques­tions about the im­pact of physi­cian-owned hos­pi­tals that should be an­swered be­fore such a hospi­tal is al­lowed to open in any Ne­braska com­mu­nity,” Bruce Rieker, NHA vice pres­i­dent, said dur­ing Feb. 24 leg­isla­tive tes­ti­mony.

“If physi­cian-owned hos­pi­tals are al­lowed to siphon off the prof­itable cases, leav­ing the com­mu­nity hospi­tal with un­prof­itable cases, in time the com­mu­nity hospi­tal may be forced to dis­con­tinue cer­tain ser­vices, caus­ing ac­cess to care is­sues for res­i­dents in var­i­ous parts of the state.”

The NHA did not of­fer com­ment on the pas­sage of the bill. A rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the nine-hospi­tal, Omaha-based Ale­gent Health Sys­tem de­clined to com­ment.

Camp­bell: “Doesn’t en­vi­sion that we would go back” to CON.

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