Physicians decry consequences of consolidation

Modern Healthcare | 2/20/2018 | Staff
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Consolidation throughout the healthcare industry is increasing costs and driving more care through hospitals, the Physicians Advocacy Institute warned in a letter to Congress.

Healthcare organizations have been joining forces to try to get ahead of the industry's shifting landscape. The number of physicians employed by hospitals and health systems grew by nearly 50% from 2012 to 2015, with a corresponding decline in the number of independently practicing physicians, according to the letter—supported with research from consultancy Avalere Health—sent to the House Energy & Commerce Committee's oversight and investigations subcommittee.

Decline - Practice - Lack - Hospitals - Implications

The decline of the independent medical practice and lack of physician-owned hospitals have negative implications for continuity of patient care, quality, innovation and cost, PAI argued. Medicare spent $2.7 billion more for four cardiology, gastroenterology and orthopedic services provided in hospital-owned settings and beneficiaries paid $411 million more in cost-sharing than they would have if those services had been provided in the physician-office setting, Avalere researchers found.

To level the playing field, PAI proposed modernizing the physician self-referral law known as the Stark law, lifting restrictions on the formation and expansion of physician-owned hospitals, easing participation threshold requirements for alternative payment models, tweaking the 340B drug discount program and bolstering antitrust laws.

Physicians - Roles - Industry - Push - Corporatization

Physicians' roles should not be undermined by the industry's push toward corporatization, PAI President Robert Seligson said.

"In some cases consolidation is good, in some cases it's not so good—ultimately, we have to be concerned about it because it has driven independent physician practices out of healthcare," he said.

% - Physicians - Ownership - Stakes - Practice

Only 47.1% of physicians in 2016 had ownership stakes in a medical practice, an American Medical Association study found. That's down from 53.2% in 2012, and research shows that doctors, especially younger ones, have opted to join larger practices rather than own their own amid the rising technology and...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Modern Healthcare
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