Perverse Medicare Pricing Incentives Drive Hospital Consolidation Inefficiency

(p. A17) Currently, Medicare pays hospital-owned facilities two to three times as much as independent physician offices for the same service, according to the Alliance for Site Neutral Payment Reform. This creates an enormous incentive for large hospital chains to acquire outpatient practices. Consolidation creates a vicious circle in which larger hospital systems can demand ever higher rates from insurers and also have the capital to buy up physician practices. Removing this perverse incentive will ensure that patients have access to trusted doctors and appropriate care at the same price regardless of treatment location and remove artificial pressure to consolidate.

These bipartisan reforms would deliver hundreds of billions in savings for families. Site-neutral payments would save taxpayers more than $153 billion in Medicare spending over the next decade and also substantially reduce premiums and cost-sharing for Medicare beneficiaries by $94 billion, according to CRFB. In total, these changes could save patients and taxpayers between $346 billion and $672 billion over the next decade.

Large hospital systems have exploited our nation’s outdated billing systems to foist gigantic bills on Americans. Bringing much-needed transparency in hospital billing will deliver more affordable care and put patients back in control.

For the full commentary, see:

Bobby Jindal and Charlie Katebi. “Doctor’s Office Care at Hospital Prices.” The Wall Street Journal (Thursday, July 27, 2023): A17.

(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date July 26, 2023, and has the same title as the print version.)

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