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AHA meeting denounces insurer-merger plans

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It’s no surprise that hospitals don’t like health-insurer  mergers, as the American Hospital Association annual meeting on May 2 made clear.

They particularly don’t like  the two  biggest pending health insurer mergers — Aetna-Humana and Anthem-Cigna.

“The unprecedented level of consolidation that these deals threaten could make health insurance more expensive and less accessible to consumers,” moderator and AHA board member Thomas Miller said. “We are also very concerned that these deals could hinder the momentum that hospitals have established to move the nation’s healthcare system forward.”

The hospitals, of course, fear that the bargaining power of these behemoth insurers could slash their operating margins.

FierceHealthPayer reports that “Northwestern University Prof. Leemore Dafny has argued that, because while there is no definitive academic research proving that past insurer mergers have created cost efficiencies or improved quality and innovation, there is evidence that provider reimbursement decreases and that insurance premiums go up.”

“The data is also clear, she said, that the health-insurance sector is already composed of “highly concentrated markets that have grown more concentrated over time.”

At the same, federal and state  regulators have been eying skeptically various big hospital- system mergers as threatening higher prices in their markets.

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