Magazine article State Legislatures

Anti-Trust Laws May Be Unhealthy

Magazine article State Legislatures

Anti-Trust Laws May Be Unhealthy

Article excerpt

Is competition the Rx for skyrocketing health care costs?

Not according to one Colorado lawmaker who wants to skirt anti-trust laws so hospitals can create cooperative partnerships. And he is not alone in this endeavor.

Several states have recently enacted legislation exempting hospitals and health care organizations from state and federal anti-trust laws intended to encourage competition by preventing collusion and price fixing. Patients will reap the benefits.

"In our heart of hearts, in the capitalistic view, we want to say that competition among all parties is the only thing that can ensure good health care," says Colorado Senator Tom Blickensderfer. "But competition on all fronts, on all issues, leaves an awful lot of machinery and staff either unused or extraneous. It all still has to be paid for, and it is the patient who pays the bill."

Blickensderfer set about to remedy that situation. The result was passage of Colorado Senate Bill 120 that allows hospitals to enter into cooperative partnerships without violating anti-trust laws. The law establishes an 11-member board and state oversight of hospital agreements.

Pointing out that there were more magnetic resonance imagery machines (MRIs) in the Denver area than in the entire nation of Canada and that each one is expensive, Blickensderfer says that under the new law hospitals will be able to cut back on their capital outlay and share use of machines.

"The race to be competitive on all fronts requires enormous capital and personnel expenditures," he says. …

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