Massachusetts hospitals now have to provide ‘urgent care’ for all, or lose their certification

Massachusetts hospitals and doctors’ offices will be prohibited from performing elective procedures unless they are desperately needed.

From now on, such procedures will have to be declared by a physician with experience and training in their particular field and in which an immediate need for surgery exists. If medical practice and training are necessary for surgical programs, they can be selected by an approved state agency. A list of procedures and specialists will be posted on a website.

This policy came into effect this week when the General Administration, the agency that oversees hospitals, sought to clarify a rule that was changing without consideration or discussion by independent health care professionals.

The initiative was inspired by a state law that passed last year. The change in the rules imposed by the G.A. will cost the health care industry about $200 million a year, most of it by eliminating elective procedures that are performed in hospitals and elsewhere that make up a relatively small portion of total revenue.

It also reduces the number of patients able to get elective treatments, a potential liability for employers.

Hospitals and physicians’ offices that are shutting down without adequately meeting this new goal will have the option of being re-certified, which would allow them to conduct elective procedures in the future.

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