At a Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust, and Consumer Rights hearing today examining the benefits health systems provide to communities, AHA Board Chair Rod Hochman, M.D., emphasized that the pandemic clearly demonstrated the benefits that integration provides to respond to emergencies, support access and create greater stability.

“Integration is key to strengthening health care in this country and ensuring every community — whether rural, urban or suburban — has access to affordable, evidenced-based care,” said Hochman, who is president and CEO of Providence, a not-for-profit health system serving the Western U.S.

While praising the efforts of the entire hospital field in meeting the challenges of the pandemic, he highlighted how the COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated how integration enabled health systems to quickly marshal resources needed to fill the gaps for a ragged public health infrastructure. 

“Integrated health systems were well positioned to deploy their resources to procure equipment in short supply, utilize IT systems to triage equipment and staff, reconfigure space to focus on infected patients and separate them from others, participate in large-scale targeted research, and perhaps most importantly, redeploy the workforce needed to meet these rapidly changing needs in multiple locations,” he said. 

At the hearing, Hochman also highlighted that the price most consumers pay for care is best reflected by the rates set by the rapidly consolidating commercial insurance industry.

“When an insurance market is highly concentrated, insurers reduce provider payments and do not pass on savings to consumers,” he said. “That is why health systems have increasingly engaged in alternative arrangements to lower costs and increase quality and convenience for consumers.”

View AHA’s full testimony for the hearing here. 

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