By Consumers for Quality Care, on January 25, 2023
New legislation aimed to stop anticompetitive nonprofit hospital behaviors has been introduced with bipartisan support, according to the Hamilton County Reporter.
The Stop Anticompetitive Healthcare Act, introduced by Congresswomen Victoria Spartz (R-IN) and Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) near the end of the last Congress, sought to amend the Federal Trade Commission Act to start including nonprofit hospital systems in antitrust enforcement. Under current laws, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has no ability to stop anticompetitive practices by nonprofit hospital systems.
“Hospital consolidation and lack of competition is a major factor driving unsustainable health care prices…Nonprofit hospital status should not be a loophole to avoid antitrust enforcement,” said Congresswoman Spartz.
“There is no question that hospital consolidation hurts patients by causing healthcare costs to jump and removing choice,” said Congresswoman Jayapal. “My bipartisan bill with Congresswoman Spartz would put in important guardrails to prevent corporations from putting profits over proper patient care without changing anything else about a hospital’s nonprofit status.”
Hospital mergers have been found to contribute to increasing health care costs for consumers, according to a 2020 report by Medicare Payment Advisory Commission. In addition, The New York Times concluded that in areas with the highest rates of hospital consolidations, competition among hospitals was drastically reduced, leading to health care price increases between 11 and 54 percent.
CQC urges lawmakers and regulators to continue to scrutinize all proposed hospital mergers to prevent consumers from being harmed by a reduction in choice and higher prices for care.