House Subcommittee Considers Obamacare's Impact on Competition

John Commins, September 20, 2013

Witnesses representing payers and providers agree that healthcare industry consolidation predates the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act by at least two decades, but blame each other for rising healthcare costs.

A U.S. House Subcommittee heard a range of perspectives on Thursday from a panel of lobbyists and policy wonks who were asked if the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is hurting competition in the healthcare marketplace. The consensus from the panel was maybe, maybe not, and we're not really sure yet.

There was a general agreement from the witnesses that healthcare industry consolidation predates the PPACA by at least two decades. The questions then became whether or not "Obamacare" was accelerating that consolidation and whether that consolidation is driving up healthcare costs.

For the most part, the testimony from lobbyists for the American Hospital Association and America's Health Insurance Plans, covered little new ground but reaffirmed each side's contention that the other was to blame for rising healthcare costs.

"Officials at the antitrust agencies have stated repeatedly that they have been and will remain focused on competition in the healthcare sector. Transactions that these authorities deem to be anticompetitive, in fact, have been challenged," AHA lobbyist Sharis A. Pozen told the Subcommittee on Regulatory Reform, Commercial and Antitrust Law.

John Commins

John Commins is a senior editor at HealthLeaders Media.

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