Mergers aren’t great; why do they keep getting approved?

Elsa Pearson is a senior policy analyst at Boston University School of Public Health. She tweets at @epearsonbusph.

Health care mergers and acquisitions can have significant negative consequences on patients, providers, and communities. Yet, questionable deals keep getting approved. Inspired (read as: frustrated) by the pending merger in Rhode Island between Lifespan and Care New England, I dove into the antitrust machinery in place to stop these mega deals.

It’s clear that mechanisms already exist to curb potentially harmful mergers and promote industry competition. It’s also clear they aren’t being used to the fullest extent. Unless these checks and balances lead to mergers being denied, their power over the market is limited.

Experts have been raising the alarm on health care consolidation for a while. The research shows mergers rarely lead to better care quality, access, or prices. Proposed mergers must be assessed and approved based on evidence, not industry pressure. If nothing changes, the consequences will be felt for years to come.

Read the full piece in at STAT!

Research for this article was supported by Arnold Ventures.

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