By Brett Wilkins

Private equity’s ownership of U.S. healthcare providers is incompatible with the needs and best interests of patients and should be checked with federal legislation, according to a report published Wednesday by the consumer advocacy group Public Citizen.

Critics of for-profit care have long decried private equity‘s focus on maximizing returns through practices including slashing staff, surprising patients with astronomical bills and eschewing low-margin care upon which vulnerable populations rely.

The new report — authored primarily by Public Citizen healthcare policy advocate Eagan Kemp — examines investment firms’ impact on more than a dozen healthcare sectors, from reproductive health through end-of-life care.

Private equity acquisitions in the healthcare sector have steadily climbed since the financial crisis in 2009, particularly in the past five years,” a summary of the report notes.

“Unlike acquisitions of hospitals, which typically occur under a public spotlight, the private equity industry’s acquisitions of physician practices and other healthcare business lines often occur with little or no disclosure or public scrutiny, hindering the ability of regulators and watchdogs to monitor the effects of private equity ownership.”

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