The bill to grease the skids for entry of Cancer Treatment Centers of America® and other specialty hospitals into New Hampshire got a boost this week when the House of Representatives approved it. The Concord Monitor reported:
The House voted 198-161 yesterday to let for-profit specialty hospitals build in New Hampshire without undergoing the rigorous state review required of other hospitals. The bill also gives those hospitals a possible exemption from a Medicaid tax other hospitals pay.
House Majority Leader D.J. Bettencourt of Salem, one of the bill's co-sponsors, said it would bring jobs to the state by making it easier for hospitals to come to New Hampshire.
Opponents like Rep. Rich DePentima, a Portsmouth Democrat, argued against the legislation, saying it would increase health care costs. Specialty hospitals take only insured or wealthy patients, he said, leaving the community hospitals with patients who are underinsured or covered by Medicaid.
We have to award the best line of the year to Rep. DePentima:
The bill also says 65 percent of a specialty hospital's patients would have to come from out of state. That requirement is intended to prevent the specialty hospitals from "cherry picking" too many in-state patients, the bill's supporters said.
DePentima questioned that assurance because there is no penalty in the bill for a hospital that violates the 65 percent threshold. "This is like a stop sign in Italy," he said. "It is just a suggestion."
The bill now moves to the Senate. It should be fascinating to see how the "live free or die" state resolves this issue.