Thursday, September 11, 2014

Once competition is gone, it's gone

Here's something for the two Attorney General candidates in Massachusetts to ponder, some recent statements from Martin Gaynor, the director of the Bureau of Economics at the FTC.  As reported in Politico, he notes:

“The ACA and all other reforms in health care system are built on top of the market-based system” and “will only work as well as those markets.”

“Layered on top of many markets that are dominated by a small number of very large systems, it can be a concern so it’s something we pay very close attention to,” Gaynor said.

Barak Richman, a Duke University law professor, said there was “very little evidence” that consolidation had “provided any efficiencies at all.”

“Barak is right,” Gaynor said. “We’ve had mergers for a very long time. There are a lot of data, and we’ve seen almost no evidence of real efficiency claims. That doesn’t mean it won’t happen, but the most recent evidence doesn’t support those claims.”

Such deals have to be reviewed and if necessary fought before they happen because they are very hard to unwind once they’re completed, he said.

“Once competition is gone — to paraphrase Bruce Springsteen — it’s gone and it ain’t coming back,” Gaynor said.

Does either of these candidates have the guts to ask the current AG to withdraw her pending deal with Partners Healthcare System and let the next AG take a fresh look at the case?

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