Health Access California is proud to be a part of a new national coalition of health consumer advocates that are taking on skyrocketing hospital costs as a main driver of our growingly unaffordable health system.
Consumers for Fair Hospital Pricing is about standing up to the big hospitals that have become big business, and fighting for quality, affordable health care for families in America.
Our nation is in the midst of a health care affordability crisis with millions of Americans foregoing care due to cost, and over 100 million people living with some form of medical debt. In California last year, 52 percent of residents reported skipping medical care due to the cost, and one in five Californians owe $5,000 or more in medical debt.
California is home to one of the most consolidated hospital markets in the nation. We have seen hospital mergers, takeovers and anti-competitive behavior drive up prices, without improvements in quality, and even leading to less access to care. That’s why we’ve taken multiple steps as a state to rein in hospital costs, that can help inform this new national coalition and even spur action in other states:
- CA took on one of the worst actors when it comes to using unchecked anti-competitive behavior and market power to raise prices. Sutter Health is dominant in Northern California where they hold a huge competitive advantage, and inpatient procedures prices are nearly twice that of Southern CA. When HHS Secretary Xavier Becera was California’s Attorney General, he joined a lawsuit against Sutter for anti-competitive contracting practices. This led to a $575 million settlement prohibiting Sutter from engaging in those practices that drove up costs.
- To take a more holistic approach, last year California took a historic step to create the state’s Office of Health Care Affordability, which will establish cost growth targets for the health care industry as a whole and assess market consolidation. This CA Office will have the strongest enforcement in the nation to rein in the health care costs.
- We are currently advocating to give our CA Attorney General broader oversight authority to review all health care mergers to protect consumers from potential negative impacts.
We’ve heard from Californians from across the state sharing their stories of the health care affordability crisis. Like the teachers and farmworkers in Monterey County that have had to seek care far from their homes to avoid the extreme prices at their local hospitals where prices are four times Medicare.
These stories are why Health Access is glad to be a part of this national coalition.
We must seek policy solutions locally and federally to make the greatest impact possible to improve the equity and affordability of the health care system for all Americans, regardless of where they live or how much they make.