“For years, the nation’s hospital chains worked to get bigger, bigger, bigger. In the 1980s and 1990s, for-profit companies like HCA and Tenet emerged as juggernauts, snapping up local hospitals and opening clinics in one town after another. Their ambitious not-for-profit cousins, the big academic medical centers like Harvard-affiliated Partners Healthcare, scooped up smaller rivals in response. Just four years ago, the Tennessee-based Community Health Systems spent $7.6 billion to buy a competitor and become the nation’s largest for-profit hospital company, with more than 200 hospitals in 29 states.
“Today, in any town or city, in any region of the country, you’ll almost certainly see the same scenario: Only a handful of hospitals, sometimes owned and operated by a company thousands of miles away.
“As the pace and scale of consolidation picked up, the outcome long appeared inevitable: an American future in which a handful of hospital chains dominate American health care … ”
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