Coping With Concentration- Tim Greaney researches regulatory measures to combat increasing healthcare costs for Health Affairs

The co-author of the nation’s leading health law casebook, Health Law: Cases, Materials, and Problems (7th edition), Professor Thomas L. (Tim) Greaney’s commentary for Health Affairs attempts to determine what is the driving force for high healthcare costs in America.

Professor Greaney, who comes to UC Hastings after serving as the Chester A. Myers Professor of Law and director of the Center for Health Law Studies at Saint Louis University School of Law and practicing healthcare antitrust legislation at the U.S. Department of Justice, suggests that higher prices are really attributable to the market power of hospitals, doctors, and to some extent drug companies. He concludes that, although not without administrative complications, policies that target providers by capping prices may be the most effective means of controlling costs and retaining the benefits of a competitive delivery system.

“What I tried to do in this article is to discuss how the law deals with trying to control rising healthcare prices. Contrary to what many people assume, anti-trust law is not very effective against high prices from entities with market power and not particularly designed to control prices once providers achieve market power,” notes Professor Greaney. “There’s been very important anti-trust litigation that stops the merger of providers, but this litigation is not effective for controlling the prices against extant existing monopolies.”

Health Affairs is the leading journal of health policy thought and research, and explores health policy issues of current concern in domestic and international spheres. Its September issue contains a cluster of articles about market concentration and explores how the market concentrations of hospitals, physicians, and insurers affect healthcare cost and quality.

“Professor Greaney’s commentary in the September issue addresses legal and regulatory efforts to combat concentration in healthcare markets,” said Alan Weil, editor-in-chief of Health Affairs. “His emphasis is on legal and regulatory strategies to enhance competition. He focuses on what he sees as largely failed strategies in anti-trust law, state laws and regulations in limiting the market power of large providers like hospital systems from dominating markets, which contributes to the high prices and low quality healthcare experienced by many Americans.”

A prolific author and frequent public speaker, Professor Greaney has offered expert testimony on healthcare competition and policy at hearings before the Judiciary Committee of the House of Representatives and Federal Trade Commission. He is beginning work on the next edition of the Health Law casebook, which will be co-authored with UC Hastings Professor Jaime King.

This semester at UC Hastings, Professor Greaney is teaching a course on business associations and a seminar on competitive policy and reform in healthcare. He will continue to serve on the advisory board of The Source on Healthcare Price & Competition, an initiative of the UCSF/UC Hastings Consortium on Law, Science, and Health Policy.

“UC Hastings is a great place to be. With the links to the Consortium, the local provider community, and the attorney general’s office, it’s the perfect place to learn and teach about healthcare,” says Professor Greaney. “I think the students will be well-served both as practitioners and citizens when they get out of law school and into their careers.”

About the UCSF/UC Hastings Consortium on Law, Science, and Health Policy

As law and science continue to overlap, lawyers, scientists, and medical professionals must be able to navigate both worlds fluently. Founded with this vision in mind, the Consortium bridges two leading institutions by utilizing education, research, and clinical training and service. Established in 2008, the Consortium has developed and supported collaborative educational and professional opportunities for students and faculty at UCSF and UC Hastings.