In an interesting development, the Charlotte Observer reports that the Justice Department has sued a large North Carolina hospital system Carolinas Healthcare for anti-trust law violations. Carolinas Healthcare controls about 50% of the hospital service market in the Charlotte NC region.
The lawsuit alleges that Carolinas HealthCare uses its market power to negotiate “unlawful contract restrictions,” which prevent consumers from taking advantage of lower prices at other hospitals. The lawsuit also contends that CHS encourages insurers to steer patients its way and uses its influence to prevent insurers from giving the same deal to competing hospitals.Federal agencies are seeking to help consumers understand the complicated federal laws on health information privacy and mental health and substance abuse parity. HHS's Office for Civil Rights which enforces the privacy law has created three consumer education video's on HIPAA's consumer / patient / enrollee rights. The Labor Department has created an information flyer on the mental health parity law.
HHS also created a website for the Obama Administration's new Mental Health and Substance Abuse Disorder Parity Task Force. OPM is one of the members of this Task Force, which is obligated to report back to the White House by October 31, 2016.