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Private-equity firms accelerated their acquisitions of doctors' practices between 2013 and 2016, according to a new JAMA study.

Why it matters: "Private equity firms expect greater than 20% annual returns, and these financial incentives may conflict with the need for longer-term investments in practice stability, physician recruitment, quality, and safety," the author writes.

  • "There may be additional pressures to increase revenue streams (eg, elective procedures and ancillary services), direct more referrals internally, and rely on lower-cost clinicians," she adds.

By the numbers: 355 physician practices were acquired by private-equity firms over the time period, a small portion of total practices. But industry reports suggest that the growth kept up in 2017 and 2018.

  • The most commonly acquired medical groups were anesthesiology, multi-specialty practices and emergency medicine.

Between the lines: The role of private equity in health care has fallen under heavier scrutiny recently, as Congress examines the billing practices of physician groups that are frequently private equity-owned.

  • Private equity might have made things worse for itself when it became involved in the surprise billing debate via physician staffing firms that it backs.
  • These groups have poured millions of dollars into ads urging Congress not to pass a surprise billing solution that'd be more costly to providers.

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Updated 5 mins ago - Politics & Policy

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In photos: Deadly wildfires devastate California's wine country

The Shady Fire ravages a home as it approaches Santa Rosa in Napa County, California, on Sept. 28. The blaze is part of the massive Glass Fire Complex, which has razed 46,600 acres at 2% containment. Photo: Samuel Corum/Agence France-Presse/AFP via Getty Images

Some 18,700 firefighters are battling 27 major blazes across California, including in the heart of the wine country, where one mega-blaze claimed the lives of three people and forced thousands of others to evacuate this week.

The big picture: 8,155 wildfires have burned across a record 3.86 million acres, killing 26 people and razing almost 7,900 structures in California this year, per Cal Fire. Just like the deadly blazes of 2017, the wine country has become a wildfires epicenter. Gov. Gavin Newsom has declared a state of emergency in Napa, Sonoma, and Shasta counties.

Mike Allen, author of AM
Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

The first Trump v. Biden presidential debate was a hot mess

Photos: Jim Watson and Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

This debate was like the country: Everybody’s talking. Nobody’s listening. Nothing is learned. It’s a mess.

  • We were told President Trump would be savage. Turned out, that was a gross understatement. Even the moderator, Fox News' Chris Wallace, got bulldozed.

Why it matters: Honestly, who the hell knows?