The Federal Trade Commission has ordered two health systems and five health insurance companies to provide data for a study on the effects of certificates of public advantage on health care prices, quality, access and innovation; and the impact of hospital consolidation on employee wages. Specifically, FTC ordered Ballad Health, based in Johnson City, Tenn., and Cabell Huntington Hospital in Huntington, W. Va., to provide aggregated patient billing and discharge data, employee wage data and other information. It also ordered Aetna, Anthem, BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, Cigna and United Healthcare to provide patient-level commercial claims data.
 
State COPA laws permit health care providers to enter into cooperative agreements that might otherwise be subject to antitrust scrutiny. In comments submitted for an FTC workshop on the issue in June, AHA said it takes no position on COPA laws, but warned that the “drive to enact COPA laws … is fueled in part, by the agency’s overly harsh treatment of efficiencies claims made by merging hospitals.”
 
Commenting on the FTC orders, AHA General Counsel Melinda Hatton said, “It is unfortunate that the FTC is adding to the cost of health care with an investigation when its own rigidity is at the heart of the attractiveness of COPAs for communities that rely on their hospitals to be there to provide essential care.”

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