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Aug182014

Opinion: Hospital mergers, cost containment and health care reform

Published 8/18/2014

By Amber Ma and Betsy Stubblefield Loucks

Earlier this summer, The New York Times Editorial Board posted “The Risks of Hospital Mergers,” detailing the impact on health care costs from Massachusetts’ 1994 Mass General Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital merger. 

The merger created Partners HealthCare – which is now the largest provider system in Massachusetts. Partners had been found to exercise significant market leverage that has driven up Boston’s health care costs unrelated to quality or complexity of care delivered.

The editorial was a response to the recommendation by the Massachusetts Attorney General in a court case to allow Partners to purchase additional hospitals and physicians’ groups, giving the state’s largest hospital system even greater market share.

A cost commission, created by Massachusetts to help stem the rising costs of health care under the Massachusetts health reform effort known as “Romneycare,” found itself without any legal authority to review and weigh in on the deal. 

Rhode Island has experienced its own wave of hospital mergers, ownership conversions and consolidations.

In the last two years:
• Memorial Hospital completed its merger with Care New England.
• Westerly Hospital was acquired by nonprofit Lawrence + Memorial Hospital in New London, Conn.
• Landmark Medical Center of Woonsocket was bought by the for-profit Prime Healthcare Services of California after years in court-ordered receivership.
• Prospect Medical Holdings, a for-profit California firm, acquired Chartercare Health Partners, which owns Roger Williams Medical Center and Our Lady of Fatima. 
• Lifespan, the state’s largest hospital system, acquired Gateway Healthcare, a behavioral health provider, and Ob-Gyn Associates, one the region’s largest ob-gyn physicians’ groups

Read the rest of the article here on ConvergenceRI. 

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