Following their recent request for information on ways to modernize merger guidelines, the Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice today held a forum to hear from health care providers, consumers and advocates who have experienced firsthand the effects of mergers and acquisitions in health care. Many of the comments focused on pharmaceutical benefit manager mergers, private equity acquisitions, and hospital consolidation. Lisa Goldstein, senior vice president at health care consulting firm Kaufman Hall, said consolidation has helped some financially distressed hospitals avoid bankruptcy and closure. Sean May, vice president at the firm Charles River Associates, said hospital mergers are associated with improvements in clinical quality outcome measures at acquired hospitals, including a statistically significant reduction in inpatient readmission rates.
AHA has urged the agencies to update their merger guidelines to properly recognize the benefits that mergers can provide to some hospitals and health systems and their patients and communities.