Friday, September 9, 2011

Affordable Care Act faces Antitrust challenges

by Dan Diamond, California Healthline Contributing Editor

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

FTC Emerges as Another Obstacle to Health Reform Law
by Dan Diamond, California Healthline Contributing Editor

Many assessments of the Affordable Care Act's long-term viability have focused on Congress' ability to weaken or repeal the law, especially if Democrats lose both chambers in 2012. Others are looking ahead to the Supreme Court's potential impact on the individual mandate's constitutionality.

But another Washington, D.C. player -- the Federal Trade Commission -- is already creating problems for the Obama administration.

True to its name, the Affordable Care Act tries out a number of new ideas to make health care less expensive. As one tactic, the law provides incentives for the creation of accountable care organizations to care for dedicated populations of Medicare beneficiaries.

However, the White House and FTC don't see eye to eye on ACOs' antitrust implications. The White House -- and by extension, the Department of Justice -- has viewed ACOs through the lens of consumer benefit. Meanwhile, the FTC spots a risk that ACOs could help already strong health care providers further fix prices.

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