PHA aims to oust Baucus as Senate Finance chairman
Physician Hospitals of America is determined to oust Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) from his post as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. “It’s all about the Senate,” said Dr. Michael Russell, president of the physician-owned hospital trade association, during its annual meeting last week in Austin, Texas. “The only way we are going to get any relief is to get rid of Max Baucus, quite frankly.” Russell said the PHA “continues to fight the fight” despite the fact that it has not had much political success since limits on building new physician-owned hospitals and expanding existing ones were included in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. PHA Executive Director John Richardson said the group has held fundraisers for several Republican Senate candidates, including Rep. Denny Rehberg, who is opposing Montana’s junior senator, Democrat Jon Tester. “We need a Republican Senate,” Richardson said. “We need Max Baucus not to be chairman.” In an interview later, Russell said the issue “shouldn’t be about Baucus, it should be about our patients,” and that PHA supports candidates who believe in competition and recognize physician-owned hospitals’ track record on costs and quality. So far, PHA has helped raise $50,000 for Rehberg, Richardson said. Other GOP Senate candidates getting PHA support include incumbents Dr. John Barrasso of Wyoming, Orrin Hatch of Utah, Dean Heller of Nevada and Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. Hatch would likely become the Finance chairman if Republicans take control of the Senate, Richardson said. The lone Democrat getting PHA support is Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, a longtime supporter of physician-owned hospitals.