State calls for curbing high hospital prices with anti-trust laws

In an effort to curb price disparities among hospitals--that is, costs that range up to five times as much as other hospitals of comparable quality--Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick said the Attorney General is empowered to file anti-trust charges against hospitals, WBUR, an NPR station, reported. Hospitals with market clout can inflate prices, thereby driving up healthcare costs. Spokesperson for Attorney General Martha Coakley Brad Puffer said in a statement, "While it is true that our office has law enforcement tools at our disposal, law enforcement is just one of many mechanisms that must be used to ensure a competitive marketplace." He hinted at stronger enforcement: "We believe a better mechanism should be in place--one that better tracks data about market consolidation to identify problems early and then is able to act on that data short of involvement by law enforcement." Article