In the Matter of St. Cloud Medical Group/ Centra Care Health, File No. 1610096 #00001

Submission Number:
Robert Ahles
Initiative Name:
In the Matter of St. Cloud Medical Group/ Centra Care Health, File No. 1610096
File No. 1610096 I feel surrounded by CentraCare Health and the circle appears to be getting bigger all the time. I am not absolutely sure that monopolies are always bad but I have always been under the impression that competition among businesses was good and was a mechanism to increase value to consumers and keep down costs. Many area residents saw significant increases in their co pays when CentraCare Health jumped to a level 4 cost level. Some left their long-term doctors at CentraCare and switched to the St. Cloud Medical Group (cost level 1) to keep health costs more affordable. Now their cost levels will skyrocket back up or they will have to once again hunt for a more affordable clinic with Health Partners now being the only remaining competition. For anyone wanting or needing a second opinion (whether voluntary or required by insurance companies) they will probably need to drive at least 75 miles to the Twin Cities area since fewer options will be available in Central Minnesota. A Star Tribune newspaper article disclosed financial information for CentraCare stating that "CentraCare posted operating income of $63.2 million on $1.1 billion in revenue". However, no financial information has been provided to the public for the St. Cloud Medical Group. While the FTC states that it appears unlikely that the SCMG can improve its financial condition no details are given or reasons explained for its financial struggles. The Federal Trade Commission is supposed to promote competition and protect and educate consumers. The FTC's approval of this merger, over the opposition of the Minnesota Attorney General's office, does not appear to do that but instead lessens competition and hurts the consumer. As some others have stated the only winners to this merger will be the CEOs and stockholders of these health care providers and the consumers will ultimately be at loss. If SCMG is truly failing financially and there is no hope for its recovery then just let that happen. I just don't think that it is the FTC's place to help in the bailout of struggling health care providers.