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Antitrust could raise costs. (Short Takes).

Health insurance premiums could be forced up by 13 percent a year if Congress passes antitrust waiver legislation that is under consideration. That's the forecast of a new report from the Health Insurance Association of America. The report notes that the legislation--"The Quality HealthCare Coalition Act" (HR. 1304)--could raise the nation's health care tab by up to $95 billion a year.

Analysis of similar legislation in California, Illinois, and Pennsylvania indicates that consumer and taxpayer spending on health care in those states could rise by $9.9 billion, $3.6 billion, and $4.5 billion respectively According to the HIAA study, allowing an antitrust waiver in California could increase annual private health care spending there by up to $7.7 billion, and taxpayer spending by up to $2.2 billion.

HIAA President Chip Kahn says that existing rules already allow physicians to get together to discuss quality of care issues. He predicts that giving them an antitrust waiver will lead to higher costs for consumers and employers. The HIAA study was authored by economist Monica G. Noether, PhD, former Deputy Assistant Director and Staff Economist of the antitrust office of the Federal Trade Commission and currently a Vice President of Charles River Associates, a Boston-based consulting firm.

James A. Hawkins is Publisher of Healthcare Briefings, a newsletter available in print, on cossette, via fax, and on computer disk He can be reached at 800/338-5486.
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Author:Hawkins, James A.
Publication:Physician Executive
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:May 1, 2000
Words:237
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