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3 congressmen ask for study of hospital consolidation and higher costs

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Three Republican congressmen have written to the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) to express  concern about whether hospital consolidation raises costs for Medicare beneficiaries. They asked the commission to begin researching the matter.

The 340B program, in particular, they said,  ”appears to be having an unintended secondary effect in encouraging consolidation.”

“Bipartisan concern over the degree to which Medicare payment policy may be accelerating hospital consolidation and negatively impacting the Medicare program has been present in Congress for some time,” wrote Reps. Greg Walden, R-Ore., Michael C. Burgess, M.D., R-Texas, and Gregg Harper, R-Miss., in the letter to MedPAC (PDF).

The legislators were worried about more than just hospitals buying up other hospitals. They also said they’re worried about hospitals buying up so many physician groups, which many experts say is driven by federal payment policies.

FierceHealthcare says that some reports have found” that consolidation can increase costs by as much as 20 percent—and one particularly concerning study found that merging hospitals had 40 percent higher prices than nonmerging hospitals.”

To read the Fierce article on this, please hit this link.

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