Reward and Punishment--Simultaneously
Under Obamacare, one federal agency will be rewarding health care providers if they merge to form networks to coordinate patient care. The feds at that agency believe such mergers will make health care better and cheaper.
Meanwhile, another federal agency will be suing health care providers if they merge to form networks to coordinate patient care. The feds at this agency believe such mergers may make health care more expensive. The Federal Trade Commission says mergers will reduce the number of competitors and lessen competition. The FTC has the power to block a proposed merger and/or sue health care providers.
The FTC is now investigating at least a dozen entities resulting from mergers and plans to keep doing so under Obamacare. “Such arrangements have the potential to generate cost savings and quality benefits for patients,” said one FTC official. “However, in some cases, the arrangements can create highly concentrated markets that may harm consumers through higher prices or lower quality of care.”
Source: Peter Suderman, “Federal Government Encourages Health Providers to Coordinate, Then Sues Them For Doing So,” Reason magazine, August 22, 2011