News impacting community cancer care
WashingtonDC3 ian-hutchinson
May 24, 2024

House Budget Committee Holds Hearing on Consolidation in Healthcare, The US Oncology Network Submits Written Testimony

On May 23, the House Budget Committee held a hearing entitled, “Breaking Up Health Care Monopolies: Examining the Budgetary Effects of Health Care Consolidation.” Witnesses included Dr. Chapin White of the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), Dr. Benedic Ippolito of the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), Dr. Adam Bruggeman of the Texas Spine Care Center, and Sophia Tripoli of Families USA. The two-hour long hearing explored market forces, transparency, physician reimbursement, and site neutral payments.

In his opening statement, Chairman Jodey Arrington (R-TX) noted, “41% of physicians are now vertically integrated with a hospital or health systems, at an increase of 12% over 10 years. In cancer care alone, over 700 independent cancer clinics were acquired by hospitals over the period of 2008 to 2020.”

Chairman Arrington continued, “The House Budget Committee and the House Republican Conference have been leading the way to combat healthcare consolidation through policies in our “Reverse the Curse” balanced budget, such as site neutral payment reform, which is a Democrat and Republican idea…Equalizing payments for the same service through Medicare site neutral reform, while ensuring our rural providers are unaffected is not only common sense, but it would save taxpayers over $150 billion in the 10-year budget window.

“More importantly, this policy would end the perverse incentive, that’s leading to hospitals acquiring independent physician offices, leaving the market with less competition patients with fewer choices, and then most importantly, our form would ensure seniors will pay less out of pocket cost, and we believe that is the bottom line here.”

In written testimony submitted for the hearing record, The Network explained how current disparities in reimbursement between hospital-owned physician practices and independent physician practices create an unlevel playing field and incentivize consolidation in oncology. This is shifting care from the physician office setting to the more expensive hospital outpatient setting and leading to higher costs for patients, insurers, employers, and taxpayers.

Advocating for site neutral payments, The Network said, “Today, our national debt is approaching $35 trillion and mandatory healthcare spending is a key driver of this debt. Four in 10 Americans report having debt due to medical or dental bills. If a service can be safely provided in the lower-cost physician office setting, there is no reason that Medicare patients or American taxpayers should be paying two to six times more for the exact same service in the HOPD setting.”

To watch highlights of the hearing, CLICK HERE.

To watch the full hearing, CLICK HERE.

To read Chairman Arrington’s full opening statement, CLICK HERE.

To read The Network’s written testimony, CLICK HERE.