House committee passes 'physician self-referral' ban

March 19, 1992|By David Conn | David Conn,Annapolis Bureau

ANNAPOLIS -- Doctors would be prohibited from referring patients to clinics or laboratories in which the physician has an interest under a bill passed by a House committee yesterday.

"If this bill flies, this is going to be one that the rest of the country follows. I really believe that," said Kent County Del. Ronald A. Guns, the chairman of the Environmental Matters Committee that passed House Bill 1374 yesterday.

The bill would prohibit health-care practitioners from referring patients to outside facilities in which the practitioners, or family members, have a financial interest.

One group decidedly unhappy about the outcome is a Georgia radiology company that, according to both supporters and opponents, became a primary target of the bill.

"I think it's absolutely outrageous," said Dennis McCoy, lobbyist for Atlanta-based Radiation Care Inc., which operates a College Park radiology clinic and is building another in Rockville.

"They're putting a company out of business and they're putting people out of a job," Mr. McCoy said after the committee vote.

Officials from Radiation Care, or RCI, said they are the main reason the state physicians' society reversed its long-standing opposition to the "physician self-referral" bill.

RCI typically finds a group of local physicians to invest in a radiology facility and ultimately buys them out with RCI stock. Local physicians and lawmakers are concerned that the arrival of RCI will increase health-care costs as new radiology clinics pop up with a captive audience of "self-referred patients."

The Medical and Chirurgical Faculty of Maryland, the state's physicians' association, denied their support for the bill is because of RCI. They pointed to a new policy against self-referrals from the American Medical Association.

But Mr. McCoy questioned Med-Chi's true motivations in light of some of the exemptions the group agreed to put in the bill, including ophthalmology practices and clinics owned by hospitals.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.