Healthcare Antitrust Update: Key Antitrust Takeaways for Physician Groups

Like other players in the healthcare industry, physician groups are facing increased antitrust scrutiny from the Biden administration, with the Federal Trade Commission (the “FTC”) and Department of Justice, Antitrust Division (the “DOJ”) (together the “Agencies”) continuing to expand their enforcement focus to include all types of transactions involving physician groups, including both traditional combinations, as well as so-called vertical combinations with health systems, payors, and private equity investors. Many states’ attorneys general have also become more active investigators of physician transactions.

How COVID-19 Has Changed the Way US Consumers Think about Healthcare

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed consumer behavior. Based on McKinsey surveys of US consumers, many spent the past year trying new brands and channels, adopting in-home alternatives to out-of-home activities, and shifting to online and omnichannel engagement. Many of the shifts could stick after the pandemic, potentially affecting the way that consumers approach healthcare. Consumers are reconsidering how they plan to address mental- and physical-health challenges, how they think about getting healthcare, how they will manage their care needs, and how they expect to do business with healthcare companies.

Vizient Report Expects Patient Volumes to Fully Rebound in 2022 after COVID-19 Losses

Patient volumes will recover to levels before the COVID-19 pandemic in 2022, but emergency department visits are projected to decline through 2029, a new report found. The report released Monday by the healthcare improvement company Vizient detailed some changes to patient volumes that could remain permanent due to the pandemic, including a shift towards virtual care.

PwC: Health Costs to Likely Go up 6.5% in 2022 as Systems Invest in Supply Chain, Digital Health

Healthcare costs are likely to go up by 6.5% next year as the COVID-19 pandemic is likely to continue to impact spending into 2022, a new report finds. The report released Wednesday from the PwC Health Research Institute found costs will also rise as health systems are going to make investments in preparedness and virtual care. “The pandemic’s long tail may increase utilization and healthcare spending in 2022 thanks to the return of some care deferred during the pandemic, the ongoing costs of COVID-19, increased mental health and substance use issues and worsening population health,” the report said.

A Healthcare Finance Expert Sees Renewed Levels of M&A Activity in Healthcare

Mike Mauldin, who leads the Nashville-based healthcare group at the Birmingham, Ala.-based Regions Bank, spent three decades in healthcare, as a CFO and CEO, and then years in publicly held and private equity, before joining the Regions Bank healthcare team five years ago. Recently, Healthcare Innovation Editor-in-Chief Mark Hagland spoke with Mauldin about his team’s work and about the current mergers and acquisitions (M&A) and financing landscape in healthcare.

HHS Mulls Mandatory Doctor Pay Based on Overall Patient Health

The only way to transform the U.S. health-care system to reward doctors and hospitals for positive patient outcomes may be to mandate it, a top health official said Wednesday. “Our health system can’t resist the siren song of the status quo,” said Liz Fowler, director of the Department of Health and Human Services’ health innovation center. Making doctors, hospitals, and insurance companies uncomfortable in traditional Medicare might be the only way to push actual change. It’s too “comfortable to remain” in Medicare fee-for-service, said Fowler, speaking at a National Academy of Medicine event.

Health-Care Deals Keep Hot Pace as Economy Pushes Past Pandemic

Health-care mergers and acquisitions continued at a hot pace in April with 207 deals closed or announced, the third month in 2021 that broke the 200-deal threshold. Only four months in 2020 had as many as 200 deals as the Covid-19 pandemic persisted, according to Larry Kocot, principal and national leader of KPMG’s Center for Healthcare Regulatory Insight. Projections of continued strong economic growth suggest that merger and acquisition activity will “remain robust for the coming months,” he said. But tax and health-care cost offset provisions in legislative packages favored by congressional Democrats and President Joe Biden could create headwinds for the health-care and life sciences sector.

From 340B to a Public Option: 4 Healthcare Items You May Have Missed in Biden’s Budget

President Joe Biden released his request for the federal fiscal 2022 budget that includes a major 23% boost to funding for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). But the budget request to Congress also includes several major changes to healthcare policies that could affect the 340B drug discount program, rural healthcare and the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Congress is not expected to fully take up Biden’s budget request, but it does highlight the administration’s priorities on where to allocate federal funding. Here are four healthcare items you may have missed in the Friday budget request.

Caring for an Aging Nation

The number of Americans 65 and older is expected to nearly double in the next 40 years. Finding a way to provide and pay for the long-term health services they need won’t be easy.

Amazon and Walmart Have an Rx for Healthcare. The Cure Won’t Be Easy.

Corporate America has four trillion reasons to get into, and perhaps upend, the business of healthcare, but even a tech genius will find the system puzzling. There are good reasons for big companies to get out of their comfort zones. They only have so many opportunities to grow, and this is a natural place to look. The U.S. is projected to spend about $4 trillion on healthcare this year, according to Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services data—nearly a fifth of gross domestic product.