'Best of intentions can be misguided': Hospitals criticize Biden executive order

Hospital groups pushed back against President Joe Biden's latest executive order that targets hospital consolidation.

The order, signed July 9, asked the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission to review and revise their guidelines on hospital mergers to limit harm to patients.

"Thanks to unchecked mergers, the ten largest healthcare systems now control a quarter of the market," the executive order said, pointing to the closure of rural hospitals as particularly concerning.

In a July 9 response to the order, Chip Kahn, president and CEO of the Federation of American Hospitals, said, "The best of intentions can be misguided. Ensuring access to needed medical attention for rural Americans is not going to be assured by excessive antitrust enforcement action of the FTC or Justice Department. Miring hospitals in legal and bureaucratic red tape will simply slow critical care to the bedside."

Rick Pollack, president and CEO  American Hospital Association, also opposes the order. In a special bulletin posted July 9, he said, "It is important to stress that hospital mergers and acquisitions undergo an enormous amount of rigorous scrutiny from the federal antitrust agencies and state attorneys general." He added that "health systems can be a particularly important option for retaining access to hospital services in some rural communities."

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