March 28, 2017

Amid concern that sprawling hospital chains are leading to higher prices, a California state senator is trying to clamp down on how hospital networks craft their contracts to win market dominance.

Sen. Bill Monning (D-Carmel) is offering a measure that would prohibit hospitals from certain contracting practices he sees as anti-competitive, such as requiring health plans to contract with all affiliates of the hospital or mandating that health plans agree to binding arbitration for antitrust claims.

"We've lost a level of transparency that's affected affordability and access and fairness," Monning said in an interview.

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Still, consolidation has increasingly come under scrutiny in California. The state attorney general's office under Kamala Harris, now serving as U.S. senator, investigated consolidation of hospital and physician groups, and the effect on consumer prices.

Last year, the healthcare trust for the United Food and Commercial Workers union, sued Sutter Health, alleging antitrust violations.

The full article can be read here.