Blue states' health plans risk industry backlash

California Gov. Gavin Newsom
California Gov. Gavin Newsom (Photo: Stephen Lam/Getty Images)

As blue states roll out ambitious plans to expand public health care coverage, they’ll have to walk a fine line to keep the health care industry — with its lobbying and advocacy muscle — on board.

The big picture: Industry groups like doctors and hospitals generally support efforts to cover the uninsured, even through public plans that aren’t very lucrative. But once policymakers start trying to use those programs to cut prices throughout the health care system, industry can become a powerful enemy.

House member targets hospital consolidation

Rep. Jim Banks stands at a press conference next to a pig mascot.
Rep. Jim Banks (right of the pig mascot) wants to limit hospital mergers. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images

Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) is introducing a bill that would crack down on hospital mergers by increasing federal antitrust staff, requiring hospitals in highly concentrated areas to accept Medicare rates from commercial insurers, and equalizing payments between hospital-owned clinics and independent doctors' offices.

Why it matters: Both parties in the House are now seriously scrutinizing hospitals, which make up the largest portion of the country's health care spending. In addition to Banks' bill, which is almost identical to his proposal from last year, Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) told Axios last month he will "launch an investigation into monopoly power in health care markets" this year.

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