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WASHINGTON — Sen. Chuck Grassley’s voice boomed through the Senate hearing room — it sounded like the voice of God, the committee chair chuckled — as he demanded an explanation for why the hospital industry was giving him information that directly contradicted the findings of academic researchers.

The hospital representative testifying had offered up an analysis paid for by the American Hospital Association showing that hospital mergers lowered the amount hospitals collect per patient. A growing body of independent research proved the opposite: that consumers’ costs rise when hospitals merge.

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