WASHINGTON – U.S. Representatives Pramila Jayapal (WA-07) and Victoria Spartz (IN-05) are introducing bipartisan legislation to stop anticompetitive hospital conduct, which has been shown to lead to higher costs for patients and restricted care. The Stop Anticompetitive Healthcare Act would amend the Federal Trade Commission Act to expand antitrust enforcement to non-profit hospitals for oversight of anticompetitive practices.
“Health care is a human right, and there’s no reason why, in the richest country in the world, people shouldn’t be able to access quality, affordable health care,” said Congresswoman Jayapal. “But too often, the corporations that run hospital chains put profits over patients – leading to worse outcomes and massive, unpayable bills. My bill with Congresswoman Spartz will put in place critical guardrails to rein in predatory practices.”
“The rule of law is a principle under which all individuals and entities are accountable to the laws that are equally enforced,” said Rep. Spartz. “The Stop Anticompetitive Healthcare Act fixes a loophole allowing tax-exempt hospitals to avoid antitrust enforcement.”
Studies tracking consolidation have found that in the years following mergers, the average cost of a hospital stay has gone up as much as 54 percent and that hospitals without competitors in a 15-mile radius have prices that are 12 percent higher than hospitals with competitors. Between 2010 and 2017, there were 778 hospital mergers across America and by 2017, 66 percent of all hospitals were part of a consolidated system.
The Stop Anticompetitive Healthcare Act would expand the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) jurisdiction to give them enforcement authority over non-profit and certain tax-exempt hospital organizations, ensuring that they have the ability to intervene and block anticompetitive actions and monopolistic practices.
“The Stop Anticompetitive Healthcare Act would close a glaring gap in the FTC’s oversight of hospital conduct and its ability to promote robust competition among hospitals. Granting the FTC this authority to monitor and bring conduct enforcement cases forward will ensure that nonprofit hospitals are held accountable. Closing this oversight gap will benefit patients and their communities,” said Emily Gee, Senior Vice President for Inclusive Growth at Center for American Progress.