The transformation of the long-fragmented hospital market into high-performing, clinically-integrated networks is key to creating a more coordinated, financially sustainable health system. But hospital and health system mergers must not be allowed to have the perverse effect of raising prices by virtue of accumulation of market power. Similarly, insurance company mega-mergers that threaten to reduce customer choice and innovation must not translate into higher premiums.
O’Malley has already promised to reinterpret American antitrust law to once again foster competition and protect consumer choice. Under an O’Malley Administration, the Federal Trade Commission would apply strict scrutiny—both pre-merger and post-merger—to ensure that provider consolidation does not lead to higher prices. Recognizing the central role of states in regulating insurance and provider markets, O’Malley would also establish a national task force of state Attorneys General, insurance commissioners, and health care facility planning authorities to ensure stimulate sustained, healthy competition in health care markets.