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WHYY: Judge’s ruling on Einstein-Jefferson merger hinges on insurers, not patients

Earlier this year, Einstein Healthcare Network could be forced to cut services or close locations unless it merged with Thomas Jefferson University. Einstein Medical Center Philadelphia serves many low-income patients and has been unprofitable for years, and thus was at risk. In opposing the merger, the Federal Trade Commission and Pennsylvania’s attorney general argued that a combined Einstein and Jefferson would control too much of the local health care market, leading to more expensive care. The government’s case is harder to make in Philadelphia, which has a lot of hospitals, said Mark Pauly, professor of health care management at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. “Traditionally, there has been in Philadelphia, almost every neighborhood had a pizza restaurant and it had a hospital, and although a lot of those neighborhood hospitals have since closed, we’re still pretty heavily endowed with hospital beds and hospital personnel,” Pauly said. Those hospitals may not be equally accessible to patients, but judges rule on such cases based on what it means for insurers, not for patients. Read more on WHYY.