Wow… this was unexpected! Almost a year ago, Lifespan and Care New England, along with Brown University, announced a proposed merger. At that time, I wrote a blog about why this was such a horrible idea. While the physicians at Direct Doctors completely understood the downsides of such a merger, especially in this small state, we did not think Rhode Island would get this right! Well today, the Attorney General denied the merger while at the same time an FTC advisory board voted 4-0 to file a joint lawsuit to do the same. While news organizations are calling this “stunning,” this is likely only because we tend to get these decisions wrong all the time. There is not necessarily anything stunning about realizing that having one organization in charge of 80% of inpatient care in a state is a bad idea! It seems obvious to us, given the mountain of evidence that AG Neronha cites, that health care monopolies cause prices to go up, access to go down without any appreciable change in care.
Now, Rhode Island still has a long way to go to fix our broken health care system. We need to focus more on primary care including incentivizing more primary care physicians to practice here. We need to give innovative practices (like Direct Primary Care) more of an opportunity to thrive. We have to work on giving patients more choice while also lowering costs. We are doing that here at Direct Doctors and will continue to do so as we grow in the future.
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Lauren Hedde, DO; James Hedde, DO and Mark Turshen, MD are Family Physicians and Co- Founders of Direct Doctors, Inc. a Direct Primary Care Practice.