Congressional hearing on healthcare consolidation: 3 things to know

The House Energy and Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations held a hearing Wednesday examining the effects of consolidation within the healthcare industry.

Here are three of the most notable quotes from the hearing's witnesses.

1. Leemore Dafny, PhD, professor at Boston-based Harvard Business School:

"In a nutshell, research to date suggests that consolidation in the healthcare industry, on average, has not yielded benefits to consumers," said Dr. Dafny. "Yet I expect we'll continue to see more consolidation … we cannot rely on the market and on antitrust enforcement to 'correct' consolidation that does not deliver benefits to consumers."

2. Martin Gaynor, PhD, professor at Pittsburgh-based Carnegie Mellon University:

"As I have discussed, consolidation in healthcare has not delivered on lower costs, improved coordination of care or enhanced quality. What has happened is that consolidation between hospitals, physician practices and insurers who are close competitors has reduced competition, leading to higher prices and harming quality," said Dr. Gaynor. "Even worse, reduced competition tends to preserve the status quo in healthcare by protecting existing firms and making it more difficult for new firms to enter markets and succeed. This leads to excessive rigidity and resistance to change, as opposed to the innovation and dynamism that we need."

3. Kevin Schulman, MD, professor of at Durham, N.C.-based Duke University and a visiting scholar at Harvard Business School:

"Large hospital systems can have other impacts on innovation ," said Dr. Schulman. "Rather than pursue the business transformation we seek, hospitals have been actively pursuing an agenda related to market power. The impacts of market power on business strategy and hospital investments can have sustained effects over long periods of time."

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