March 25, 2015 Practice Points

FTC and DOJ under Fire for "Anti-Hospital" Bias at Conference

The American Hospital Association and other trade groups condemned a recent workshop’s “lack of objectivity and balance” and “overwhelming anti-hospital points of view.”

By Sarah Anna Santos

A recent workshop hosted by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Department of Justice (DOJ) to examine antitrust issues in healthcare featured an anti-hospital bias and was not represented sufficiently by healthcare providers, according to the American Hospital Association and other trade groups. In a letter dated March 16, the trade groups condemned the conference’s “lack of objectivity and balance” and “overwhelming anti-hospital points of view” in discussing the anti-competitive concerns that arise as hospitals increasingly consolidate and collaborate.

The conference focused on the risk of price increases and leverage and ignored the benefits of healthcare consolidation, said the letter. According to the letter, such benefits include rescuing failing hospitals and improving the quality of services at hospitals with insufficient funds to improve equipment.

The conference only featured one representative of the hospital system, said the letter, who spoke regarding Accountable Care Organizations, not the benefits of hospital consolidation. The trade groups offered to provide panelists and subject matter in the future to ensure “robust and complete marketplace information” and “a balanced public record and a sound basis for public policy decisions.”

— Sarah Anna Santos, Hunton & Williams LLP, Charlotte, NC

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