The National Academy of Social Insurance (NASI) recently published a consensus report on provider consolidation. Basically, we have a growing problem in that hospitals are buying each other up and also physician practices, which leads to reduced competition and higher prices.
The report was promoted with an op-ed in The Hill by the esteemed Robert A. Berenson (Urban Institute) and G. William Hoagland (Bipartisan Policy Center):
The use of market power—or the ability to raise and keep prices higher than would prevail in a competitive market – is the key reason the United States spends so much more on healthcare than other countries.
For policymakers, tackling the lack of competition is like climbing a mountain. Even the initial steps — creating more competition – may be difficult, but they must be explored before more regulatory action further down the path is considered.
These are remarkable statements; and difficult to accept uncritically.