The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is squaring off against a private equity-backed anesthesia practice in Texas, HealthNews Florida November 30 reports. This move is being seen as a first step in the agency seeking to challenge the increasing role of private equity in monopolizing medical groups.
In September, the FTC sued US Anesthesia Partners (USAP) and the private equity firm Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe in federal court in Houston, alleging that they have monopolized large anesthesiology practices in Texas.
Following the acquisition by the private equity group, USAP controls 60% of Texas’ hospital anesthesia market, and its prices are double those of other anesthesia providers in the state. The firm also holds large ownership shares in radiology, orthopedic and other healthcare groups.
The lawsuit is intended to send a message that the FTC will be scrutinizing these types of “roll-up” deals that result in hefty price increases and rate-setting, according to the article. These deals by private equity groups have increased in recent years–and driven up costs. A February 2022 study from JAMA Internal Medicine found that prices charged by anesthesiology groups increased 26% after they were acquired by private equity firms.
Experts say that private equity companies are watching the suit closely–if it is successful, it could have a chilling effect on these acquisitions.Read More >>