WASHINGTON - As the Senate continues to dissect the American Health Care Act, Senator Lankford hopes to reform at least one piece of the Affordable Care Act.

Sen. Lankford has introduced the Patient Access to Higher Quality Health Care Act of 2017, which his office says, “Will lift the ban on the creation and expansion of physician-owned hospitals and allow these hospitals to participate in Medicare and Medicaid.” Lankford’s office goes on to say the hope from this legislation is to increase hospital competition and lower costs.

Lankford’s team also points to 18 physician-owned hospitals in Oklahoma, however 17 of the 18 hospitals are either in the Tulsa or Oklahoma City metro. The lack of immediate rural impact may cause some experts to question the motive behind Lankford’s legislation. One Oklahoma doctor told News 9, “Some experts may believe this legislation represents a great opportunity for rural Oklahoma to attract enterprising physicians to start hospitals in rural areas. But others are concerned this is nothing more than a hand out to wealthy donors who own specialty hospitals in metro areas.“

In a statement Sen. Lankford said:

Obamacare is not working for most Americans, costs have skyrocketed and choices have diminished. There are many smaller health care reform steps that can target specific problems within health care. The Patient Access to Higher Quality Health Care Act of 2017 will increase competition, which will lower health care costs and expand quality of care by empowering smaller physician-owned hospitals to innovate and tailor their services to the communities they serve. We need strong general care hospitals in Oklahoma, but that should not preclude smaller innovative hospitals from also providing care.

News 9 also reached out to the Oklahoma Academy of Family Physicians in response to the legislation. They told us while it is early in the process for this act they do, “Support efforts by legislators to enhance access to quality health care for Oklahomans.” Academy officials went on to say they can see Lankford’s effort to try and solve issues from Obamacare by saying, “This does appear to represent an effort by Sen. Lankford to address some of the concerns that arose from the ACA and we look forward to reviewing his legislation further.”

The Patient Access to Higher Quality Health Care Act of 2017 was introduced in the House by Rep. Sam Johnson (R-TX) in February.