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FTC Challenges Hospital Merger To Prevent “Near-Monopoly” Grip On Care

posted by Alicia Caramenico

on November 11, 2015

Health competition in provider markets is vital to delivering high-quality, affordable health care. That’s why the Federal Trade Commission recently challenged a hospital merger that would create a “near monopoly” and lead to higher prices and lower-quality care for patients in four West Virginia and Ohio counties.

Studies show that when providers consolidate into larger hospitals with larger market shares, prices go up – which makes premiums and costs for patients even higher.

A merger between rivals Cabell Huntington Hospital and St. Mary’s Medical Center raised concerns about the potential harm posed to consumers as the combined entity would command more than 75 percent of the market share – an amount the FTC says would “eliminate important competition that has yielded tremendous benefits.” The truth is consumers benefit when health care providers compete to offer cost-efficient, higher-quality care, and develop innovative approaches to care delivery.

The FTC’s latest challenge of two West Virginia hospitals is another example of how antitrust enforcement works to prevent problematic behavior that undermines affordability, quality care, and innovation.