UnityPoint sues to stop ASC from adding 2 cardiac cath labs

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West Des Moines, Iowa-based UnityPoint Health filed a lawsuit to block a large physician group from opening two cardiac catheterization labs in its ASC, according to a report from the Iowa Capital Dispatch.

The Iowa Clinic, a group of 250 physicians and care providers, received a certificate of need to add two cardiac catheterization labs to its surgery center in December, despite opposition from UnityPoint-Des Moines. UnityPoint argued a recent decline in case volume, excess cardiac catheterization services in the area and the revenue shift away from the hospital meant the new labs should not be approved.

The Iowa health department cited CMS' approval of low-risk cardiac catheterization procedures in ASCs as a reason for approval. The Iowa Clinic physicians have privileges at UnityPoint hospitals where its cardiologists currently perform procedures that would move to the physician-owned ASC if the labs are constructed.

UnityPoint sued the Iowa health department in April to stop the ASC's expansion, and in court documents filed since then has argued the ASC's cardiac catheterization labs were not safe and would put patients at risk of transfer, which delays treatment.

The Iowa Clinic's lawyers fired back at the idea patients would be at risk, stating: "This offensive notion obscures (UnityPoint's) obvious focus on its bottom line rather than what is best for patients."

The Iowa health department's lawyers issued a statement supporting the agency's certificate of need approval, noting CMS, private insurers and the American College of Cardiology say the proposed cardiac catheterization procedures are safe for ASCs, according to the report.

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