The basic purpose of the antitrust laws is to preserve and promote competition for the benefit of consumers, not to protect competitors. Competition serves consumers by reducing health care costs, improving quality and expanding access to health care providers and services. Competition creates incentives for physicians to increase their efficiency, lower their costs and improve quality. Competition among health plans encourages greater innovation and efficiency resulting in lower prices to employers and employees.
A competitive market also expands consumers’ choices by creating opportunities for new or alternative forms of health care. For example, nonphysician providers, such as nurse-midwives, optometrists, and nurse-anesthetists offer high quality, cost effective alternatives for delivering care. Through their presence, they also create powerful incentives to physicians to be more efficient, less costly, and more innovative.
Currently, Congress is considering H.R. 1304, which creates a sweeping antitrust exemption that would permit price-fixing, boycotts and market allocation agreements that would otherwise be illegal under the antitrust laws. Such agreements will result in higher health care costs and fewer choices for patients, employers, and the Medicare and Medicaid programs.
Members of ACCC-HC formed a coalition because of their common concern about the serious threat H.R. 1304 poses to health care cost containment, quality, and access. ACCC-HC opposes H.R 1304. because it will increase the cost of health care, put some health care professionals at an unfair competitive disadvantage and leave cartels of health care providers without any oversight from a regulatory authority.