Friday, September 14, 2012

Doctor, Hospital Deals Probed

California's attorney general has launched a broad investigation into whether growing consolidation among hospitals and doctor groups is pushing up the price of medical care, reflecting increasing scrutiny by antitrust regulators of medical-provider deals.
The office of the attorney general, Kamala D. Harris, has sent subpoenas, known as civil investigative demands, to several big hospital operators in the state, including San Francisco-based Dignity Health and San Diego's Scripps Health and Sharp HealthCare. Northern California's 24-hospital Sutter Health system has also received one, as has Santa Barbara-based Cottage Health System, according to people with knowledge of the matter. Subpoenas have also gone to major California health insurers, those people said.
The probe, which has been under way for several months, is examining hospital systems' reimbursement from the insurers, according to people with knowledge of the matter. The regulator appears to be focusing on whether the systems' tie-ups with physicians, as well as ownership of hospitals, have given them the market power to boost prices in a way that violates antitrust law, these people said.


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