Surgery center group applauds new regulation

It’s not every day an industry considers more regulations from government a win, but that is the case for surgery centers in the state.

The New Jersey Association of Ambulatory Surgery Centers has been supporting a bill that would require single-room surgery centers, typically part of doctor’s offices, to be licensed and inspected by the state’s health department just as multiroom centers are now.

Current law states that single rooms remain under the purview of the state Board of Medical Examiners.

Gov. Chris Christie signed a bill Monday that would make the change, after at least seven years in the Legislature.

The law does reduce the burden on the single-room centers with an exemption from the physical plant standards and exemption from facility assessment and licensing fees.

Jeff Shanton, president of NJAASC, said: “This new law also brings some much-needed financial relief to our industry. Specifically, the new law now permits combinations among registered surgical practices and licensed facilities, which would create some liquidity in the market, something desperately needed in light of the Codey Law moratorium on the development of new surgery centers. In addition, hospitals can also now affiliate with these registered surgical practices.”

Mark Manigan, an attorney with Brach Eichler, said that, despite being on the docket for years, the new law still has the same impact as it would have when the legislation was first introduced.

The market will respond, he said.

“We’ve already been seeing activity around affiliation activity, but due to regulatory restrictions now eliminated by this law, there had been burdensome managerial relationships put in place,” Manigan said. “This law creates liquidity to deal with that. The business is becoming, with each passing day, more of a volume-driven business. And a one-room is limited to one room; there is only so much juice you can squeeze out of that. So, this law is now responding to market demand and you’re going to see the market act. I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw fair amount of affiliation and combination activity over the next 18 months.”