FTC Wary Of Growing Number Of Hospital Mergers
The agency is "raising a lonely but powerful voice" against the trend, The New York Times reports. Also in the news are reports about a big insurer and seven hospital groups creating a new health system in the Los Angeles area and the shift from doctors' offices to retail outlets for vaccinations.
The New York Times: F.T.C. Wary Of Mergers By Hospitals
As hospitals merge and buy up physician practices, creating new behemoths, one federal agency is raising a lonely but powerful voice, suggesting that consumers may be victimized by the trend toward consolidation. Hospitals often say they acquire other hospitals and physician groups so they can coordinate care, in keeping with the goals of the Affordable Care Act. But the agency, the Federal Trade Commission, says that mergers tend to reduce competition, and that doctors and hospitals can usually achieve the benefits of coordinated care without a full merger (Pear, 9/17).
The New York Times: Hospitals And Insurer Join Forces In California
In a partnership that appears to be the first of its kind, Anthem Blue Cross, a large California health insurance company, is teaming up with seven fiercely competitive hospital groups to create a new health system in the Los Angeles area. The partnership includes such well-known medical centers as UCLA Health and Cedars-Sinai (Abelson, 9/17).
The Associated Press: Drugstores, Retailers Dive Deeper Into Vaccines
Walgreen provided enough flu shots last season to protect a population roughly twice the size of Los Angeles. CVS doled out more than 5 million, or double its total from a few years ago. And Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, offers flu shots at more than 4,200 of its U.S. stores that have pharmacies. The nation's biggest drugstores and other retailers are grabbing larger chunks of the immunization market, giving customers more convenient options outside the doctor's office to protect themselves against the flu, pneumonia and other illnesses. In fact, nearly half of all flu vaccines provided to adults are now administered in non-medical settings like drugstores or worksite clinics. But this push by retailers muscles into an area of health care that was once largely the domain of the family doctor. And that stirs some concern from doctors who want to stay tuned into the health of their patients and keep track of who has received a vaccine (Murphy, 9/17).