On April 17, 2020, Health Affairs Blog published “The Proposed Vertical Merger Guidelines And Health Care: Little Guidance And Dubious Economics,” a piece written by Thomas Greaney, JD,a visiting professor of law at UC Hastings College of Law in San Francisco and distinguished senior fellow with the UC Hastings/UCSF Consortium on Law, Science and Health Policy, and Richard Scheffler, PhD. The blog post details the lack of scrutiny placed on hospital acquisitions of physician organizations, despite the increasing rate this practice. Greaney and Scheffler assess the newly proposed Vertical Merger Guidelines created by the FTC, including where they may fall short and how they could be improved. To read a pdf version of the Health Affairs Blog, click here. To read a web version of the Health Affairs Blog, click here.
As part of the Labor Center’s blog series “Rising Health Care Costs in California: A Worker Issue,” Petris Center research was spotlighted in the eight blog post titled, “High Health Care Prices are the Primary Driver of California Workers’ Health Care Cost Problems.” The blog post referred to “The Sky’s the Limit: Health Care Prices and Market Consolidation in California,” a Petris Center study from 2019 that found increasing inpatient and outpatient prices in the state that have grown steadily from 2013 to 2017. Additionally, the report found higher prices in Northern California, reflecting the growing consolidation in Northern California.
On January 27, the first Healthy California for All Commission meeting took place. Professor Scheffler attended the meeting in Sacramento. To view the agenda and a recording of the meeting, click here.
On December 18, 2019, Governor Gavin Newsom named Richard Scheffler to the newly created Healthy California for All Commission. The Commission includes 26 members, comprising 13 voting members, eight gubernatorial appointees, four legislative appointees, and five ex-officio, non-voting members. The goal is to develop a plan that would guide the state toward a unified health care system, with broad coverage and access through a single or coordinated financing system, but not limited to a single payer financing system. To read more from the Governor’s Office, click here. To read about it from UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health, click here.
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On Thursday, November 18, Professor Scheffler partook in a debate at the UC Berkeley campus centered on Medicare-for-All. The event was hosted by the Berkeley Conservative Society and the campus Center on Civility & Democratic Engagement. Scheffler and Sally Pipes, president and CEO of the Pacific Research Institute, took opposing sides, with Scheffler supporting the proposal and Pipes arguing against it. Scheffler reasoned that the high cost of healthcare in its current state, including the $38 billion price tag of private insurance last year and excess costs due to the inefficiencies created by the disjointed system, would be reduced through a unified, national healthcare system. To read more, click here
On November 21, 2019, The Economist published an article titled “Donald Trump wants hospitals to be more upfront about prices,” referenced a study conducted by Brent Fulton as part of the Petris Center. Fulton found that 90% of American hospital markets were highly concentrated. Additionally, the percent of highly concentrated primary-care physician markets has nearly doubled since 2010, growing from 20% to over 40% in just eight years. To read the full article, click here To read the full report, click here
On Thursday, October 3rd, a Petris Center report showing increasing hospital and physician consolidation was included in an article centered on the Sutter Health trial in California. Professor Scheffler was quoted, saying that physician group acquisitions largely go unnoticed despite contributed to an already growing hospital consolidation and market power in the state. To read the full article, click here.
On September 9th, Professor Scheffler was quoted in an article in California Healthline surrounding the upcoming Sutter Health trial on September 23rd. Sutter has been accused of infringing on antitrust laws in the state by decreasing competition and ultimately overcharging patients. Scheffler was quoted saying, “One of the reasons we have such a big problem [with consolidation] is that they’ve done very little. Enforcement has been very weak.” To read the full article, click here.
On September 9th, the Los Angeles Times published an article discussing the high price tag of healthcare in Northern California in light of the ongoing Sutter Health trial. Professor Scheffler was commented on the lack of adequate enforcement of dominant hospital systems in the state. The piece also highlights increasing hospital consolidation in the state as well as anticompetitive contract provisions. To read the full piece, click here.