Biden Competition Order Targets Hospital Mergers, Surprise Medical Bills

The White House call for revised enforcement guidelines to promote hospital competition will likely amplify federal scrutiny of hospital mergers, which health economists say have raised prices.

The Biden administration order, released Friday, encouraged the Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission to review and possibly revise their merger guidelines. It highlighted hospital consolidation, which the order said has harmed consumers.

The order also called for the Health and Human Services Department to support rules limiting surprise medical bills and requiring that hospitals disclose their prices. The Trump administration ordered hospitals to make their prices public starting Jan. 1, but many hospitals have failed to comply.

The recommendations come after the federal government has already stepped up its review of healthcare competition and pricing practices.

Last December, the FTC sued to stop Hackensack Meridian Health’s agreement to acquire Englewood Healthcare Foundation. Hackensack Meridian is fighting the FTC suit, said a spokesman, who declined to comment further.

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