Proposed Indiana Hospital Merger Threatens Access to Quality Care 

By Consumers for Quality Care, on July 8, 2024

Proposed Indiana Hospital Merger Threatens Access to Quality Care 

A recently enacted state law in Indiana may lead to an increase in proposed hospital mergers, according to KFF Health News. The executives pushing these mergers often promise better care and lower costs for patients, but data shows that hospital mergers often result in the opposite: less competition, higher prices, and worse patient care. 

In 2021, Indiana enacted a Certificate of Public Advantage, or COPA law, allowing state regulators to consider hospital mergers that would otherwise be flagged as potential monopolies by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). But the law includes a caveat: The merging entities must provide “clear evidence” that the benefits of the deal will “outweigh any potential disadvantages.” 

In Terre Haute, a community of 58,000 residents, a proposal between Union Hospital and Terre Haute Regional Hospital, two hospitals on opposite sides of the town, is being considered. Residents are concerned about the potential loss of services in either location, a reduction in the quality of care, and higher prices for care.  

The FTC has expressed concerns about states’ enacting COPA laws, which they say, “have resulted in significant price increases and contributed to declines in quality of care.” Health care consolidation hurts consumers because, according to University of Missouri-Kansas City Economist Chris Garmon, “a merged hospital system that faces little remaining competition after the merger usually has little incentive to follow through with its promises because patients have no other choice.”  

Indiana already has some of the highest hospital prices in the country, and although the state legislature has enacted laws to address these issues, advocates like Gloria Sachdev, CEO of Indianapolis-based Employers’ Forum of Indiana, fear that these mergers will eventually lead to increased costs for consumers.  

Decreased competition hurts consumers, often leading to fewer options for care and higher out-of-pocket costs. CQC urges regulators and lawmakers to scrutinize mergers in the health care industry and work to ensure that consumers do not foot the bill for anti-competitive practices.