Jeffrey G. Micklos, executive vice president and general counsel for the Federation of American Hospitals says the study doesn't explain the reasons for cost growth and price variations that it found.
"What we're seeing is that provider consolidation is happening and it is a response to the marketplace," Micklos told HealthLeaders Media. "It's not only the affordable care act and coordinated care and integrated care efforts but it is also reaction and rebalancing in some markets. So when they have a finding that says there are wide variations in price levels and growth rates in localities and states our position is 'that is the market and the market is working. Some places there will be more rebalancing than others. These trends are cyclical. They come and go."
While provider consolidations have been cited as a driver of healthcare costs by the health insurance industry, Micklos says market leverage is not the sole motivation.
"It's really being driven by trying to break down the silos of care and coordinate care more," he says. "Hospitals look at themselves as healthcare companies and there are a bunch of reasons why they are aligning with physicians. And it is not just their desire to do so. Physicians are also facing this new market where they are being asked to do more with less with regards to capital investment and health information technology and developing a quality infrastructure platform and malpractice and other typical costs that make it difficult for them to continue to practice in that two- or three-doctor practice."