Opinion: Private equity, health care, and profits: It’s time to protect patients

The business model of private equity incentivizes short-term profits at the expense of all other considerations. The result is that patients, communities, and even entire health care systems can suffer.

In his State of the Union address, President Biden expressed concern with the growing — and troubling — trend of private equity ownership and operation of nursing homes and the inherent risk it presents to care of their residents. Between 2010 and 2019, such equity deals in health care nearly tripled in value, from $42 billion to $120 billion, totaling $750 billion over the last decade.

That staggering number represents thousands of hospitals, nursing homes, travel nurse companies, behavioral health programs, and other health care settings in every state. The profit-making goals of private equity are, in many ways, at odds with the needs of patients and the rules of government-financed health care programs. In fact, since 2013, private equity-owned health care companies have paid more than $500 million to settle claims of overcharging government health care programs.

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