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September 22, 2003

Smith Economist's Book Challenges Growing Monopoly Power of Doctors, Hospitals and Insurers

NORTHAMPTON, Mass. -- While many factors are contributing to Americans' dramatically increasing health-care costs, the influence of consolidation and anticompetitive practices has not been well understood.

"Managed Care and Monopoly Power: The Antitrust Challenge" (Harvard University Press), a timely book by Deborah Haas-Wilson, professor of economics at Smith College, provides a roadmap for using antitrust laws to promote competition and value in health-care markets.

"America's antitrust laws, when wisely enforced, permit markets to work competitively and, therefore, efficiently," Haas-Wilson explains. "Competitive markets foster low prices and high quality. But the line that distinguishes anticompetitive behavior from procompetitive behavior is changing rapidly.

"By understanding the economic concepts essential to enforcement of the antitrust laws in health-care markets," Haas-Wilson argues, "people ranging from concerned health-care consumers to economists, lawyers and health policymakers can discern the delicate line between health-care conduct and consolidations that should be allowed because consumers will be made better off and those that should be challenged because consumers will be hurt."

One of few books to address issues at the confluence of health policy, economic theory and antitrust law, "Managed Care and Monopoly Power," in the words of one reviewer, "makes a convincing argument for a principled, economics-based health-care antitrust policy. Everyone with an interest in health policy, health economics or antitrust should read this book. "


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Marti Hobbes
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