Hospital Mergers and Economic Efficiency

Posted by Social Science Research Network

Hospital Mergers and Economic Efficiency

Roger D. Blair (University of Florida), Christine Durrance (University of North Carolina) & D. Daniel Sokol (University of Florida)

Abstract:      Consolidation via merger both from hospital-to-hospital mergers and from hospital acquisitions of physician groups is changing the competitive landscape of the provision of health care delivery in the United States. This Article undertakes a legal and economic examination of a recent Ninth Circuit case examining the hospital acquisition of a physician group. This Article explores the Saint Alphonsus Medical Center-Nampa Inc. v. St. Luke’s Health System, Ltd. (St. Luke’s) decision — proposing a type of analysis that the district court and Ninth Circuit should have undertaken and that we hope future courts undertake when analyzing mergers in the health care sector. First, the Article addresses the question of how best to frame the acquisition of a physician group by a hospital — is the merger horizontal, vertical, or potentially both? In undertaking this analysis the Article examines the broader issue of the treatment of Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) in antitrust law. ACOs are short of full integration and as such, a potential contractual alternative for hospitals and physician groups to an acquisition. A hospital acquisition of a physician practice also has implications for how to view competitive effects in the contex…

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