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Hospital Consolidation Matters

 |  April 15, 2024

By: Equitable Growth Team (Washington Center for Equitable Growth)

Across the political spectrum in the United States, numerous organizations have raised concerns about the lack of competition within Healthcare markets, highlighting the high prices, variable quality, and potential impacts on labor markets that result from increased concentration in the sector. The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic not only exacerbated the trend of hospital consolidation but also starkly illuminated its consequences: diminished capacity to care for critically ill patients and healthcare professionals stretched to their limits.

Despite a wealth of evidence underscoring the severity of this issue and its profound financial and health implications for patients and local economies, as well as an array of actionable policy proposals, the federal response has been limited. While antitrust agencies have shown some vigilance in addressing hospital consolidation, the modest steps taken thus far fall short of addressing the breadth and depth of the problem. Recognizing that effective intervention requires more than just antitrust enforcement, our report seeks to galvanize action at both federal and state levels.

Rather than merely adding to the chorus of voices lamenting the erosion of competition in hospital markets, the Washington Center for Equitable Growth endeavors to catalyze change with a call to action. Our objective is to provide a pragmatic assessment of the challenges facing hospital market competition and to outline pathways toward a future where healthcare is more accessible, affordable, and equitably administered by fairly compensated providers…