Biden to beef up healthcare antitrust enforcement 

The Biden administration is ramping up efforts to stop what it calls anticompetitive practices by healthcare entities.

In a series of policies announced Dec. 7, the administration moved to take action against high prescription drug costs, along with implementing stricter reviews of healthcare mergers and acquisitions.

"Consolidation in healthcare markets has accelerated in recent decades, too often leading to higher costs, worse quality and less access to care — particularly in rural areas," the administration wrote in a news release.  

In October, a Justice Department antitrust division leader said payers and providers should expect close scrutiny of any acquisitions moving forward because the department is ramping up post-merger investigations and will look into attempts to illegally monopolize healthcare markets.

Four key updates:

1. A federal inquiry into "corporate greed in healthcare" will be conducted by the Justice Department, Federal Trade Commission and HHS to understand how private equity and corporations are affecting healthcare access and cost. The collected information will be used to develop future regulation and enforcement prioritization.

2. HHS will appoint a chief competition officer. The Justice Department's antitrust division and the FTC will name counsels for healthcare to lead antitrust inquiry efforts.

3. HHS, the Justice Department and the FTC will share data to help regulators identify transactions that may violate antitrust laws but are difficult to identify because of "roll up strategies," or a series of small acquisitions that lead to market consolidation but fall below the size needed to trigger reporting requirements.

4. CMS is releasing ownership data on federally qualified health centers and rural health clinics, building on the previous release of ownership data for hospitals, nursing homes, hospice providers and home health agencies.

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