By Gregg A. Masters, MPH
One of the more popular downsides associated with the growth and dispersion of ACOs in provider [primarily of the ‘institutional variety’ aka hospital/health system] consolidation and asset concentration, is the risk of anti-competitive pricing leverage. You know, the ‘my way or the highway’ approach of certain providers with near or actual ‘sole source’ standing in their markets.
Concurrent with the release of the final rule for ACOs were a series of enabling related agency rulings on the treatment of ACOs from tax, and anti-trust perspectives.
The Court’s ruling today temporarily blocking OSF’s proposed acquisition of Rockford Health System is a victory for both competition and consumers. We continue to believe in the merits of our case, and that if this deal is ultimately allowed to proceed, the result will be less competition and higher health care prices in the Rockford area. We look forward to presenting our case before the Administrative Law Judge later this month.
Clearly this is one in a continuing series of actions FTC will take when the perceived scale is deemed tipped in favor of excess provider consolidation, and thus adding to an anti-competitive market.
ACOs [or the strategic positioning of same] are causing the DOJ and FTC to reconsider their thresholds and indicia of ‘equilibrium’ between acceptable payor/provider marketplace balance. Certainly there is more to come as we progress.
It may be completely coincidental timing, but OSF Healthcare appears in a write up at FierceHealth, titled ‘OSF Healthcare Exec on the Pioneer ACO journey‘.
Yes, we do live in [very] interesting times!