Governor Signs New Law Allowing Nursing Homes to Employ Physicians in Washington

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Nursing homes in Washington will, for the first time, be allowed to directly employ staff physicians as a result of a bill that Governor Christine Gregoire signed last week.

The new law, drafted with the assistance of Lane Powell, creates an exception to what is known as the “corporate practice of medicine” doctrine – a doctrine that generally prohibits physicians (and other professionals) from being employed by non professional corporations. The prohibition is rooted in a longstanding principle that professionals should not be focused on corporate profits or subject to control by nonprofessionals. Historically, this has forced most Washington physicians to practice solely as part of physician owned companies, and accordingly, nursing homes have provided medical services to their residents only through outside independent physicians.

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