Christi Braun and
Farrah Short have submitted a
paper for the 2012 ABA/AHLA Antitrust in Healthcare Conference in which
they discuss the proper role of antitrust enforcement in achieving
today's health care reform goals in the context of
hospital-health insurer vertical mergers. The paper focuses on the
recent acquisition of the West Penn Allegheny Health System, Inc.
by Highmark, Inc., a health insurer. The acquisition followed on
the heels of the closely watched 2010 Third Circuit
case in which West Penn's antitrust lawsuit against
Highmark and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center was
reinstated. While the analysis of competition in health care
mergers has typically focused on horizontal mergers, vertical
mergers have not been extensively studied or investigated. The
Allegheny County region of Pennsylvania, with its largest hospitals
and health insurers engaged in an ongoing legal battle, its second
largest hospital system on the brink of financial ruin, and health
care costs substantially higher than in similar markets relative to
the quality of care, may be a prime candidate for testing the costs
and benefits of a vertical merger and its impact on health care
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