Pelham Examiner

Pelham Examiner

Pelham Examiner

Big step in controlling medical costs would be use of federal antitrust powers to break up healthcare giants

To the editor:

Despite its nature as a self-proclaimed free society, America’s approach in regards to healthcare remains anything but free. It’s imperative that all citizens, regardless of financial status, should be entitled to reasonably priced and quality healthcare services, and we hope to delve into dismantling the obstructive costs of various services, medicines and insurance payments. These costs can be created by the extreme prices for prescription drugs, payments for chronic conditions or the general excessive costs of hospital administration, among other factors. The varied yet avoidable elements of the increasing healthcare divide in the U.S. contribute to financial strain on families, limited access to quality care for lower-income individuals and bottled economic growth. It would be in the best interest of both the population and government to intensify the focus on alleviating the effects that healthcare costs have in the United States.

It becomes clear that affordable healthcare isn’t just a policy concern—it’s a moral necessity. The first policy proposal that we think would be most effective is aimed at reducing costs in the hospital setting. This can be achieved through multiple methods, but perhaps one of the most effective would be to take more trust-busting action against hospitals that consolidate different segments of the health market together. This monopolization, such as larger hospitals acquiring physician practices, leads to higher prices and less competition, as the same services are being attained but distributed by one entity. To combat this, there already are federal agencies such as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Department of Justice Antitrust Division that are tasked with breaking up unfair coalitions between businesses. However, the lack of funding serves as a barrier to force antitrust regulators to choose which mergers to attack, and which to allow to continue unfair partnerships. The healthcare industry embodies one of these instances that are permitted to slip by because of lack of resources. As such, we propose to increase the funding of these trust-busting agencies, with the intent of delegating more attention to mitigating healthcare monopolies and hospital acquisitions. This change would not only lessen the medical costs for American citizens who already struggle juggling other payments but has the potential to have a positive impact on federal revenue, where citizens spending less on healthcare would be able to make more purchases on taxable transactions, resulting in increased government income. Additionally, the breaking of these trusts would allow for a greater range of quality care to be accessible by the public. Where one dominating healthcare provider in a specific area may become complacent and reduce quality of care, breaking up trusts that support vertical integration would permit multiple healthcare providers to compete with each other in terms of better care and lower prices, supporting both the consumer and the U.S. economy.

Granted, this is all easier said than done, especially given the stagnant state of our current Congress. With so much delay and political polarization, achieving meaningful healthcare reform may seem like an insurmountable task. However, with enough pressure applied on our lawmakers, change is within sight. It’s ultimately important to remember that the citizenry is responsible for electing and keeping our members of Congress in power. With continued support and advocacy, our lawmakers will be forced to take action in order to stay in office.

Ultimately, it’s important to realize that change can only be fulfilled through you. We implore you to draft letters to lawmakers, join advocacy groups or simply spread the word regarding the change that must happen. Together, true difference making can be achieved and reform can finally be achieved.

Zinedine Sehili

509 Second Ave.

Prashaan Malwana

416 Fourth Ave.

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  • M

    Meredith ShurJun 14, 2024 at 7:33 pm

    While I am by no means an expert on healthcare policy, I feel compelled to offer my take on the opinion asserted by the writer. I wholeheartedly agree that our system is broken. However, the destructive entities are health insurance companies, not the hospital systems. Hospitals have consolidated and merged in order to have more bargaining power for reimbursements. Most health insurance companies are publicly traded, for-profit corporations making annual profits in the billions. Most hospital systems are not-for-profits and struggle to meet the bottom line….even the largest and most well known systems. Downward pressure on reimbursement has forced countless privately owned medical practices to join hospital systems because without the bargaining power of the system they cannot keep their doors open.
    It is my opinion that as long as health insurance companies are operated to benefit shareholders, they cannot benefit patients and our healthcare system will continue to deteriorate.
    Meredith Shur MD
    131 Manor Lane