WASHINGTON — Can private equity firms provide quality health care?
It’s the question that patients, researchers, and consumer watchdogs are asking as the powerful financial firms move quickly to buy up physician practices. The industry spent $86.1 billion acquiring doctors offices in 2018 alone.
I wonder how this will interact with analogous changes in dentistry business practices (e.g. expansion of DSOs-Dental Service Organizations) and the coming consolidation of dental care insurance billing with medical insurance billing ? Optometry, podiatry also will eventually be incorporated into a single administrative billing process. So how is the client/patient protected by this change in executive control. Anyone who thinks a doctor will control his interaction with the client when private equity controls the health care market is sadly mistaken. Legislative “guard rails” on private equity healthcare administration will be necessary to protect their clients (the public).
The likes of Blackstone and KKR binge-buying doctors offices, seeking annual profit in excess of 20% comes at a time when affordable medical care is more and more out of reach to a majority of Americans. It challenges the basic concept that basic care is a human right, not a venue ripe for squeezing outsize profits. It’s time that American MDs appreciate the fact that they earn far more than their counterparts in western europe and the consequences to their patients health and well being if they sell their equity and management control to outside, private investors. I’m sure that any serious investigation of sufficient scope will show that patient care quality overall slides downward while patient and taxpayer bills bounce up when giant private equity funds take control.
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