House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee Chairman Wally Herger (R-CA) today announced that the Subcommittee on Health will hold a hearing to examine how private health insurance costs, Medicare spending, and beneficiary costs are impacted by mergers and acquisitions in the health care sector. The hearing will take place on Friday, September 9, 2011, in 1100 Longworth House Office Building, beginning at 9:30 A.M.
In view of the limited time available to hear from witnesses, oral testimony at this hearing will be from invited witnesses only. However, any individual or organization not scheduled for an oral appearance may submit a written statement for consideration by the Committee and for inclusion in the printed record of the hearing.
Recent years have seen a large number of acquisitions and mergers in the health care industry. Among typical transactions, hospitals are buying or merging with other hospitals, hospitals are purchasing physician practices, physician practices are merging with physician groups, and large insurance companies are purchasing smaller plans. Industry experts expect regulations and policies contained in the new health care overhaul to exacerbate this trend.
While such consolidation may facilitate greater efficiencies and deliver higher quality services by eliminating duplication and excess capacity, many experts are concerned that some consolidations are being driven primarily by a desire to increase reimbursements. Richard Feinstein, director of the Bureau of Competition at the Federal Trade Commission, warned that provider consolidation "can create highly concentrated markets that may harm consumers through higher prices or lower quality care."
In announcing the hearing, Chairman Herger stated, "While consolidation within the health care industry is not new a phenomenon, all signs point to it accelerating in the coming years. In some circumstances, consolidation produces desirable results like improved efficiency and quality. However, we must ensure that consolidation is not simply used as a tool to increase revenues by driving up Medicare spending and the cost of private health insurance. This hearing will provide members with a better understanding of what is currently taking place, what is expected to occur, and how we can protect America's seniors and those with private health insurance and the employers who offer it."
FOCUS OF THE HEARING:
The hearing will focus on the impact health care consolidation is having on the cost of private health insurance, Medicare spending, and beneficiary costs.
DETAILS FOR SUBMISSION OF WRITTEN COMMENTS
Please Note: Any person(s) and/or organization(s) wishing to submit for the hearing record must follow the appropriate link on the hearing page of the Committee website and complete the informational forms. From the Committee homepage, http://waysandmeans.house.gov, select "Hearings." Select the hearing for which you would like to submit, and click on the link entitled, "Click here to provide a submission for the record." Once you have followed the online instructions, submit all requested information. ATTACH your submission as a Word document, in compliance with the formatting requirements listed below, by the close of business on Friday, September 23, 2011. Finally, please note that due to the change in House mail policy, the U.S. Capitol Police will refuse sealed-package deliveries to all House Office Buildings. For questions, or if you encounter technical problems, please call (202) 225-1721 or (202) 225-3625.
The Committee relies on electronic submissions for printing the official hearing record. As always, submissions will be included in the record according to the discretion of the Committee. The Committee will not alter the content of your submission, but we reserve the right to format it according to our guidelines. Any submission provided to the Committee by a witness, any supplementary materials submitted for the printed record, and any written comments in response to a request for written comments must conform to the guidelines listed below. Any submission or supplementary item not in compliance with these guidelines will not be printed, but will be maintained in the Committee files for review and use by the Committee.
1. All submissions and supplementary materials must be provided in Word format and MUST NOT exceed a total of 10 pages, including attachments. Witnesses and submitters are advised that the Committee relies on electronic submissions for printing the official hearing record.
2. Copies of whole documents submitted as exhibit material will not be accepted for printing. Instead, exhibit material should be referenced and quoted or paraphrased. All exhibit material not meeting these specifications will be maintained in the Committee files for review and use by the Committee.
3. All submissions must include a list of all clients, persons and/or organizations on whose behalf the witness appears. A supplemental sheet must accompany each submission listing the name, company, address, telephone, and fax numbers of each witness.
The Committee seeks to make its facilities accessible to persons with disabilities. If you are in need of special accommodations, please call 202-225-1721 or 202-226-3411 TTD/TTY in advance of the event (four business days notice is requested). Questions with regard to special accommodation needs in general (including availability of Committee materials in alternative formats) may be directed to the Committee as noted above.
Note: All Committee advisories and news releases are available on the World Wide Web at http://www.waysandmeans.house.gov/.