MergerWatch (fiscal sponsor: Community Catalyst, Inc.)
- Project Title: Empowering NY Consumers in an Era of Hospital Consolidation
- Priority Area: Empowering Health Care Consumers
- Grant Amount: $100,000
- Date Awarded: November 15, 2016
- Region: Statewide
- Region: New York City
- Website: http://www.mergerwatch.org/
- Grant Status: In Progress
Too often the health care system puts patients last, when they should come first. Consumers and patients are frequently marginalized, rather than placed at the center of the health care system and treated as its most important customers. The interests of providers, payers, and other organized stakeholders take precedence over the patient in many cases. NYSHealth seeks to amplify the voice of the health care consumer and increase the information and tools available so that patients have more influence over their health and health care. To change the current dynamic and increase health care consumers’ choice, control, and convenience, NYSHealth issued a request for proposals, Empowering Health Care Consumers in New York State. Through this initiative, NYSHealth is funding ambitious, large-scale projects and studies to increase consumers’ access to their own health information; provide new tools and resources that will inform consumer health care decision-making; and identify strategies that meaningfully engage consumers in determining the types of health care services available in their local communities. NYSHealth awarded MergerWatch a grant, through its fiscal sponsor Community Catalyst, Inc., to participate in this initiative.
Under this grant, MergerWatch will conduct an in-depth review of New York’s Certificate of Need (CON) process to explore how it can be used in the oversight of health care consolidations and as a forum for consumer input. Consolidation in the health care provider market can reduce competition and consumer choice, lead to cuts in services, and foster higher prices. The issue is typically debated by health care industry stakeholders and anti-trust monitors, but rarely are there channels for consumer input. In 2016, MergerWatch issued a national study that concluded that the CON process to oversee hospital transactions can be updated to be more transparent and consumer friendly, enabling greater input and review from the public. As it reviews the State’s CON process for this project, MergerWatch will identify opportunities for consumer engagement and protection in this era of consolidation.