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Expand chart
Data: Physicians Advocacy Institute; Chart: Axios Visuals

Nearly 70% of America's physicians were employed by hospitals or corporations by the end of 2020, and nearly half of physician practices were owned by them, according to a new analysis released by the Physicians Advocacy Institute.

Why it matters: The health care industry is becoming increasingly consolidated, which studies suggest will lead to even higher prices.

Flashback: "The coronavirus is shriveling the businesses of doctors' practices, which serve as the home base for most patients," Axios' Bob Herman reported last spring.

  • "Small and independent groups that are facing the most severe cash crunches eventually may be forced into two less-than-ideal options: sell the practice, which would further consolidate the industry and expose patients to higher costs, or close their doors for good."

Between the lines: It looks like Bob's reporting was spot-on.

  • The analysis, which was done by Avalere Health, found that there was a particularly sharp uptick in the number of physician practices owned by non-hospital corporations — like insurers or private equity firms — between January 2019 and January 2021.
Expand chart
Data: Physicians Advocacy Institute; Chart: Axios Visuals

By the numbers: More than 48,000 physicians left independent practice to become employed by hospitals or other companies — a 13% increase in the number of employed physicians, per the report.

  • The number of practices owned by hospitals or corporations increased by 21% over the two-year time period, the analysis found.

Between the lines: Private equity has been flocking to health care for years, and some private equity-owned providers made a name for themselves by being a frequent source of surprise medical bills.

  • Insurer-owned clinics have been increasingly competing with hospitals and physicians for patients, the Wall Street Journal reported last year.
  • And hospital consolidation amid the pandemic — particularly by systems that received federal coronavirus aid — has recently drawn criticism.
  • “It was not the intent to be a capital infusion to the largest and most financially stable providers to allow them to simply grow their slice of market share,” Rep. Katie Porter (D-Calif.) told the NYT.

The bottom line: The pandemic's fiscal impact on doctors may have only reinforced or accelerated a trend that was already underway. But it certainly didn't stop hospitals from pursuing a lucrative business line, nor did it make the industry less attractive to investors.

Go deeper: Private equity's slow creep into doctors' offices

Go deeper

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
12 hours ago - Economy & Business

The mental health deal boom

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The positive social media response to Simone Biles withdrawing from Olympic competition highlights how the artificial line between health care and mental health care is finally beginning to dissolve. And startup investors have taken notice.

By the numbers: Venture capital investments in mental health startups rose 72.6% between Q1 2020 and Q1 2021, per CB Insights.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Jul 28, 2021 - Energy & Environment

The private climate finance surge

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

There's so much private equity and infrastructure fund action in the climate tech space these days that it's hard to keep up.

Driving the news: Brookfield Asset Management on Tuesday closed $7 billion for its Global Transition Fund that aims to scale clean energy and help carbon-intensive industries cut emissions.

Trump's Republican critics rake in cash

Reps. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger during the first Jan. 6 hearing. Photo: Andrew Harnik-Pool/Getty Images

Republican critics of Donald Trump have raked in campaign cash this year as their votes to impeach the former president and investigate the Jan. 6 Capitol attack have put them in the crosshairs of Trump and his allies.

Why it matters: The 2022 midterms won't just determine which party controls Congress. They're also shaping up to be a test of Trump's continued hold on the GOP. The few remaining Republican dissenters in Washington need to put up big fundraising numbers if they hope to stave off a purge.