One of the main drivers of Connecticut’s rising healthcare costs is consolidation in the healthcare market, making health coverage increasingly unaffordable for consumers, employers, and businesses.
Next Thursday, March 14th, the insurance committee will hold a public hearing on SB-416, An Act Promoting Competition in Contracts Between Health Carriers and Health Care Providers, among other bills. SB-416 would prohibit anti-competitive contracts between big health systems and insurers, promoting competition in the market and bringing down prices.
There is overwhelming evidence that provider consolidation drives up prices for healthcare without improving quality. A legislative forum last September included experts on the impact of consolidation and other concerns.
While Connecticut has adopted some measures to promote competition in the marketplace, it isn’t enough. Two lawsuits have been filed so far this year against Hartford Healthcare for anti-competitive behavior.
State regulation of mergers isn’t working. From July 2016 through last August, of the 74 CON decisions, the state Office of Health Strategy approved all but three. A study published in Health Affairs in January, found that Connecticut is among the three best states with the most robust CON laws regulating mergers. However, market concentration in states with robust laws like ours grew just as fast as the rest of the nation between 2010 and 2019. In addition, healthcare prices are 28% higher in states with robust laws. According to the study, the problem is that state regulators haven’t used the tools available in the law to attach and enforce conditions to mergers that preserve competition.
Connecticut’s healthcare market is already so consolidated that legislation and legislative oversight are needed to protect and encourage competition. SB-416 includes legislative options to improve the competitiveness of Connecticut’s healthcare market. We don’t have to wait for the federal government to act; these contracts are governed by state law. Other states have adopted these options and are lowering premiums.
If you would like to join the CT Health Policy Project and other advocates testifying in favor of SB-416, please let us know at email@example.com. We have tools that make it easy to submit written testimony and/or testify in person.