The Senate Finance Committee held a hearing on June 8 entitled “Consolidation and Corporate Ownership in Health Care: Trends and Impacts on Access, Quality, and Costs.” The witnesses included researchers, the president and CEO of a rural hospital, and a representative from a physician group. The focus of the hearing was to investigate reports of industry practices in health care that increase overall costs of care.
Committee members questioned the witnesses on a variety of topics, including health insurance consolidation, innovative payment models, pharmacy benefit managers, physician payments, and hospital outpatient department cuts. Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) noted the bipartisan rapport of the committee and emphasized that he was willing to work across the aisle to address many of the issues discussed in the hearing. Ranking Member Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) agreed with the sentiment and praised the committee’s previous successful bipartisan work.
In one key moment, Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) claimed that health system consolidation has led to unfair billing practices that drive up the cost of care. She announced that she introduced the Site-based Invoicing and Transparency Enhancement (SITE) Act (S. 1869) with Sens. Mike Braun (R-Ind.) and John Kennedy (R-La.) June 7, which would impose so-called site-neutral payments on hospital outpatient departments. The AAMC opposes “site-neutral” policies due to the harmful effect on patients and the communities they serve [refer to Washington Highlights, May 5].