A recent New York Times article on hospital consolidation “doesn’t paint a full picture of the root cause of higher health care costs to consumers,” AHA President and CEO Rick Pollack states in a letter to the editor. “For example, the article’s findings are inconsistent with a recent study in Health Affairs that concluded that insurers are responsible for health premium growth (50 percent higher),” Pollack said. “…In addition, an economic study from Charles Rivers Associates showed that hospitals were able to cut annual operating expenses by 2.5 percent per patient admission after a merger or acquisition. At the same time, hospitals and health systems have slowed price growth to under 2 percent during each of the last four years, despite the fact that government programs do not cover the cost of care.
“Rapid changes in the larger health care field as new competitors create a new competitive market for outpatient and other health care services are leading hospitals and health systems to reevaluate how they deliver care. The realignment of the hospital field is a direct response to the changing needs of communities for more convenient care, continuous financial pressures to reduce costs and the ever-present drive to improve quality. In order to achieve this hospitals are joining physicians and other partners to unleash savings and innovate to transform care delivery.”