We applaud the Federal Trade Commission for doing what is right for Americans, and for challenging the U.S. District Court’s ruling that would have allowed the merger of Penn State Hershey Medical Center and PinnacleHealth System in Harrisburg.
What judges like U.S. District Judge John Jones need to realize is that the consolidation of health care systems hurts everyone — except for the hospital executives who profit.
No study has ever shown that consolidation lowers health care costs. In fact, the opposite is true. Thus, the FTC correctly argues that the merger would lead to higher prices and poorer quality.
Just because the government has “created a climate that virtually compels institutions to seek alliances,” as Jones wrote in his opinion, doesn’t mean Americans should rubber stamp moves that will continue to cause our health care costs to skyrocket.
The FTC appeal has put this merger on ice while the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit considers whether to bless or block the consolidation. I hope the court looks at the Idaho case, where last year the U.S. Appeals Court for the Ninth District ruled that a major Idaho health system had to unwind its acquisition of a large medical practice because it would harm the community.
We hope clear minds also prevail in Pennsylvania. The FTC is our best hope.
Marni Jameson Carey, Winter Park, Fla.
The writer is executive director of the Association of Independent Doctors.