At the very end of this year's short legislative session, the Connecticut lawmakers passed a bill that could change the landscape for Connecticut hospitals and physicians. Here are some highlights.
1. For-profit entities in Connecticut may employ physicians.
Connecticut hospitals have used "medical foundations" to employ physicians. Without this legislation, medical foundations can be owned only by non-profit hospitals, hospital systems or medical schools. Senate Bill 35 broadens eligible owners to include for-profit hospitals, hospital systems and medical schools. A hospital, health system or medical school may organize and be a member of no more than one medical foundation. Board members of a non-profit medical foundation may not be an employee or representative of a for-profit hospital, and similarly, board members of a for-profit medical foundation may not be employees or representatives of a non-profit hospital/system.
2. Certain transactions involving physician practices and hospitals will require filings with state agencies.
Among the transactions that will require filings are:
- Mergers, acquisitions and sale of group practices (more than 2 doctors) to a hospital, certain hospital affiliates or a medical foundation; these will require a filing of a Certificate of Need with the Office of Health Care Access and notice to Attorney General.
- Mergers, acquisitions and sale of group practices (as small as 2) to another physician practice that results in a practice of 8 or more will require notice to Attorney General
- Certain employment arrangements that result in a group of 8 or more physicians will require notice to the Attorney General.
- Hospital affiliated practices and practices with 30 or more physicians must make annual filings with the Attorney General's office with the following information:
- Description of the relationship with hospital
- Names and specialty of each physician
- Location and Description of services at each location.
3. Conversion process made more difficult: non profit to for-profit hospital.
Changes were made to the regulatory process that is undertaken by hospitals moving from a non-profit status to a for-profit status. Here are a few:
- An additional and earlier hearing is now required.
- Either the Commissioner of Public Health or Attorney General may place conditions on the conversion application.
- Another factor was added to the decision-making: the continued access to high quality and affordable health care after accounting for any proposed change impacting hospital staffing.
4. Hospitals must contact patient's physician if requested.
Upon admitting a patient, a hospital must ask the patient if the patient desires his physician to be notified of the admission and make reasonable efforts to contact the physician within 24 hours after the patient's request.