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“In recent years, private equity firms have been gobbling up physician practices to form powerful medical groups across the country, according to a new report released Monday,” Reed Abelson and Margot Sanger-Katz write for The New York Times. “In more than a quarter of local markets — in places like Tucson, Ariz.; Columbus, Ohio; and Providence, R.I. — a single private equity firm owned more than 30 percent of practices in a given specialty in 2021. In 13 percent of the markets, the firms owned groups employing more than half the local specialists. The medical groups were associated with higher prices in their respective markets, particularly when they controlled a dominant share, according to a paper by researchers at the Petris Center at the University of California, Berkeley, and the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, a progressive think tank in Washington, D.C. When a firm controlled more than 30 percent of the market, the cost of care in three specialties — gastroenterology, dermatology, and obstetrics and gynecology — increased by double digits. The paper, published by the American Antitrust Institute, documented substantial private equity purchases across multiple medical specialties over the last decade. Urology, ophthalmology, cardiology, oncology, radiology and orthopedics have also been major targets for such deals. The higher prices paid by private insurers contribute to high insurance premiums, and may increase out-of-pocket costs for patients. Private equity firms, which pool funds from institutional investors and individuals to form investment funds, tend to purchase companies using debt, with an eye to reselling them in a few years. The industry has turned to health care fairly recently, but it has begun purchasing doctors’ practices at a steady clip, combining smaller practices to form larger companies.” Reed Abelson and Margot Sanger-Katz, “Who employs your doctor? Increasingly, a private equity firm,” The New York Times.

Jeanne Pinder  is the founder and CEO of ClearHealthCosts. She worked at The New York Times for almost 25 years as a reporter, editor and human resources executive, then volunteered for a buyout and founded...