N.C. Attorney General Roy Cooper has urged the legislature to make hospital bills easier to understand and to rein in aggressive bill-collecting practices. Cooper also wants hospitals to notify his office and the Federal Trade Commission before they acquire other hospitals or physician practices, a frequent occurrence both nationally and in North Carolina. Such consolidation can increase costs for consumers, Cooper said. "It's important that there be competition in the health care arena, just like any other business," Cooper said in an interview. "It's important that when these mergers occur, it doesn't result in higher prices and higher insurance premiums for consumers and businesses."