P.O. Box 12068, State Capitol
Austin, Texas 78711
Tel. (512) 463-0112
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 24, 2007
AUSTIN - Senator Jane Nelson, R-Lewisville, today filed legislation (SB 290) based on the recommendations of an interim working group charged with studying the emerging trend of specialty, or "niche," hospitals.
"During the interim we empaneled a group of experts to investigate the concerns among some in our health care community who believe that specialty hospitals compete unfairly against public hospitals, thereby reducing revenue that could be used for indigent care. This legislation dedicates a portion of tax revenue from specialty and other for-profit hospitals to a fund for indigent health care and adds a reporting mechanism that will allow us to evaluate the impact these facilities are having on public hospitals," Senator Nelson said.
There were 37 niche hospitals in Texas in June 2006 representing 6 percent of total hospitals. Niche hospitals are located in 15 counties in the state, generally in urban and suburban counties, and all are for-profit. SB 290 is the resulting legislation from an interim study created via SB 872 by Senator Nelson in the 2005 legislative session. Specifically, SB 290:
- Dedicates 8 percent of taxes paid by for-profit health facilities to an indigent health care grant program;
- Updates the Texas definition of niche hospitals with confidentiality guidelines, including the creation of criminal penalties for the unauthorized release of patient medical records;
- Requires all hospitals and ambulatory surgery centers to report revenue and vital statistics about ownership, patient admissions, and uncompensated care;
- Requires all hospitals to have at least one board-certified emergency medicine physician on duty in their emergency departments at all times.