AHA Defends Hospital Consolidations
Monday's report may have been the AHA's attempt to change the media narrative of late. The nation's hospitals have taken it on the chin in the last several weeks, starting with the mid-May disclosures by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services that showed huge and seemingly inexplicable variations in what hospitals charge for the same inpatient procedures.
On Sunday, The New York Times ran a front page story comparing the significantly higher price of medical care in the United States when compared with other countries. And on Monday CMS released for the first time hospital pricing data for 30 types of hospital outpatient procedures.
The health insurance industry has long taken a dramatically different view of hospital consolidations and says several studies have shown that it drives down competition and increases the cost of care while not necessarily improving access.
"The evidence clearly demonstrates that increasing provider consolidation is leading to higher prices for medical services and higher health care costs for consumers and employers," Robert Zirkelbach, spokesman for America's Health Insurance Plans, said in an email exchange.
Melinda Hatton, AHA senior vice president and general counsel, told the media that the report was needed because "there has been a lot of misinformation about what is going on in the hospital field particularly around mergers and acquisitions. This really fills a gap."
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