April 13, 2016
An executive at Chicago-based Health Care Service Corp., which operates Blue Cross plans in Illinois and four other states, told a court Tuesday that the proposed merger between Downers Grove, Ill.-based Advocate Health Care and Evanston, Ill.-based NorthShore University HealthSystem could be bad for the Chicago area.
Steve Hamman, senior vice president of provider engagement and enterprise network solutions at HCSC, served as one of the Federal Trade Commission’s witnesses in a hearing this week to block the proposed merger.
Under questioning from the FTC, Mr. Hamman said the combined system would have more leverage with payers that sell plans in the Chicago area and more bargaining power “typically manifests itself in higher prices for services,” according to the Chicago Tribune.
Mr. Hamman’s testimony supported the FTC’s argument that the merger would lead to higher healthcare costs for consumers and diminish incentives for the combined entity to upgrade services and improve quality.
However, under cross-examination it became clear Blue Cross has another reason to oppose the merger. The insurer is also worried that after the merger, Advocate and NorthShore would create their own health insurance company, according to the report.